Kern Urges ‘Thinking Differently’ about Aviation Safety

 - May 9, 2023, 1:32 PM
Convergent Performance CEO Tony Kern. (Photo: AIN)

In his keynote presentation this morning at the Business Aviation Safety Summit (BASS) in New Orleans, Convergent Performance CEO Tony Kern argued that more recent social and business aviation industry changes have created a need for rethinking safety approaches and programs. “We are in an unprecedented time, and we cannot use old modes of thinking,” he said, pointing to a generational hand-off, life-work balance pressures, and staffing shortages as among the factors behind shifts affecting safety.

Kern provided attendees at BASS, which is co-organized by NBAA and the Flight Safety Foundation, with guidelines for “learning to think differently,” starting with developing a beginner’s mind—or “Shoshin” in Zen Buddhism. “Experience tends to blind us to changes and new threats,” he said, as those regarded as knowledgeable “go back to what’s worked in the past—the ‘experts curse.’”

According to Kern, safety management systems and other safety programs should be built on a foundation of empathy and compassion, rather than regulatory compliance.

Going forward, he said professionals must also “assume less, verify more,” and “communicate more and communicate better—not just with people, but with machines.” Kern noted that as a result of these changes, psychological issues are having a greater impact on safety, and he urged the industry to “address mental health challenges, absolutely, positively head on.”