President’s Corner 3Q17 “Safety and Fitness for Duty in the Forefront”

The National Safety Forum (NSF) was held on October 12, 2017 in conjunction with the National Business Aviation Association’s Convention and Exhibition. Over 30,000 individuals attended the full event and a large number of dedicated aviation safety professionals participated in the NSF, both in person and by live webcast. Worldwide interest in aviation safety continues to grow, not only in the pilot community, but importantly in the maintenance and allied aviation professional fields.

NBAA President/CEO, Ed Bolen kicked off the NSF with a passionate plea for a systematic approach to continuous improvement in all fields of aviation safety, including ground operations and support services. He pointed out NBAA’s Board of Directors written commitment to safety programs as well as the value of the 10th annual Single Pilot Safety Standdown sponsored by Textron Aviation.

The Honorable Earl Weiner, Ph D., National Transportation Safety Board member and pilot, followed with his emphasis on the NTSB’s Ten Most Wanted List and praise for the NBAA’s Safety Committee initiatives and products. Requiring Medical Fitness for Duty, Reducing Fatigue Related Accidents and Ending Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation are recurrent themes on the Ten Most Wanted List and are focus areas for the NBAA Safety Committee. The NBAA’s Foundations for Safety includes Fitness for Duty, which was the initial panel presentation for the NSF.

I had the privilege of speaking on the Fitness for Duty panel which included experts in fatigue mitigation, aviation maintenance safety and in flight operations. Each presenter brought a wealth of experience and fascinating insights from different perspectives to the audience. Each aviation professionals group has its own set of challenges, most having less protections and resources in place than pilots. Clearly, fitness for duty involves a broad spectrum of areas including fatigue, mental health, physical well-being, cognitive acuity, self-awareness and assessment, corporate culture and a robust safety management system. Each group of aviation professionals needs to be actively involved in all phases of the safety process.

The airlines, pilot unions and civil aviation authorities worldwide are recognizing the importance of fitness for duty, particularly in the areas of pilot mental health, substance impairment and fatigue. These efforts have focused primarily on pilots, particularly with establishing regulatory protections. All aviation professionals face similar fitness for duty challenges and key components in safe operations of all aircraft. Particularly vulnerable and least protected is the single pilot aircraft owner/operator.

The physicians at AMAS have extensive experience in assisting pilots and flight departments with the full range of Fitness for Duty, pilot health and performance, fatigue and medical certification issues. Safety and pilot health have been the foundations of our services to pilots in all areas of aviation. Contact us for additional information and assistance in these critical areas. Also, contact the NBAA Safety Committee for guidance in safety programs and tools. Completing the NBAA Safety Survey will help us in addressing key areas of concern and designing programs to help every aircraft operator.

Fly Safely, Be Healthy,
Quay Snyder