ACSF Looks for Expanded Outreach with Symposium Venue

 - April 5, 2022, 10:52 AM
ACSF chairman Robert Rufli, who is v-p of flight operations and director of operations for Pentastar Aviation, opened the 14th ACSF Safety Symposium, noting the shift in venue aligns with the organization’s strategic goals for better outreach, particularly to academia. (Photo: Kerry Lynch/AIN)

The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) kicked off its annual Safety Symposium on Tuesday at a new venue, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) campus in Daytona Beach, Florida, with the dean of the College of Aviation, Alan Stolzer, welcoming the 150 safety professionals and some 25 students to the two-day event.

The symposium this week follows the cancellation of the 2021 event as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The event also marks a shift from the previous location at the National Transportation Safety Board’s training center in Ashburn, Virginia, where it had been held for the first 13 years. President of ACSF, Bryan Burns, had called ERAU a “perfect location” to network with colleagues after the difficulties encountered through the pandemic.

Opening the 14th ACSF Safety Symposium was ACSF chairman Robert Rufli, who is v-p of flight operations and director of operations for Pentastar Aviation. He noted the shift in venue aligns with the organization’s strategic goals for better outreach. According to Rufli, ACSF is working towards deepening its ties with academia as it accumulates key safety data to address issues. Emphasizing the importance of the academic perspective, Stolzer added that the university was “really excited” about the prospect of such partnerships. “Embry-Riddle would really like to be part of that,” he said.

Stolzer is among several ERAU safety experts addressing the attendees during the symposium this week, with a lineup that includes Robert Sumwalt, the former NTSB chairman who has taken the role of executive director of ERAU's newly formed Center for Aviation and Aerospace Safety. Sumwalt joined Stolzer in welcoming the safety professionals and students and said he looked forward to a long-term relationship between the ACSF and the university.

Others on the agenda included the university’s director of aviation safety Robert Joyce; Ken Byrnes, assistant dean for the College of Aviation and chairman of the Flight Training Department; and Juan Merkt, associate professor of aeronautical science.

Aviation stalwart and founding partner and CEO of Convergent Performance, Tony Kern, was the lead speaker of the event, providing an overview of psychological wellness and the challenges to aviation safety. He said this was particularly important as everyone is operating in “unchartered waters” due to Covid and other factors. “Aviation is used to change but this is big-time change,” Kern remarked. He discussed the need to take a fresh look at learning.

Other topics are intended to center on human factors, non-punitive reporting and safety culture, applying lessons from the space shuttle to business aviation, virtual reality in flight training, aircraft energy management, risk management, maximizing safety, tackling personal difficulties, and a case study of runway excursions. While removed from its former home in Ashburn, the Safety Symposium this week will still have an NTSB presence. In addition to Sumwalt, NSTB member Michael Graham is among the speakers for the event.