|Taking Advantage Of The Various FAA Safety Programs|
From the very get-go it was the idea of the Federal Aviation Administration that control and enforcement of those involved with the aviation industry was the correct way to make it safer to fly. In their minds it was easier to penalize those who made mistakes than it was to educate them. We experienced the fear that this mentality caused within the aviation community for many years, and then finally a small group of pilots, instructors, and FAA Inspectors had the idea that a concentrated safety program might reach out to the entire industry and really do some long term good. And they were right! All they had to do was convince the powers-that-be to change sides. They used the ever-escalating fatality rates to do this and we arrived at PLAN “B”
Just for the record, we now have the safest industry in the world in terms of services provided and fatalities counted. No other industry can even come close and most don’t even try to compete. We watch with joy as the figures keep improving and as the aviation safety record sets new bench marks with every survey.
All we are trying to do with these meetings is to inform and educate the pilots and make the sky safer!
I have personally been involved as a volunteer with the various safety programs for over 20 years, doing whatever was necessary to help make these efforts successful. I started out doing far too much (if that is possible) with too many programs at too many locations and not enough volunteers or FAA help to make the programs work to their potential. It didn’t take long for those attending to let everyone know what was working and worthwhile for them personally and what wasn’t. We changed some programs, put some thought into several new ones, and dropped a few.
We have learned to concentrate on the meetings that draw the largest crowds, such as WINGS, AOPA, ASF and those FAA sponsored gatherings with named speakers. It is difficult to get a building that is weather ready, the equipment to put on a professional get-together, chairs, and it is becoming much harder to raise money for refreshments and food. We are there to educate and hopefully entertain, but if we don’t hold the audience’s interest we will never get them back again. Having the new FAA FAASTeam Program working in the background has allowed us to attract over 500,000 enrollees because of the education benefits being offered.
I can’t say enough about those brave individuals who bucked the trend and knew in their minds that these types of programs would work and also be beneficial. I talk to some of those guys when I can, and there are not many of them left. My last conversation was with Al Milana out in Nebraska and he recounted to me the first meeting that he and some volunteer FAA Inspectors had back in the 60s. The subject was “Takeoffs and Landings.” I mentioned to him that we were having the AOPA Air Safety Foundation do a talk that evening on the same subject matter. That illustrates that nothing changes. What was dangerous 50 years ago can still get you hurt today.
We have just finished our first year getting everything on line for the FAA Safety Team and it seems to be working. Our biggest challenge so far is getting all the pilots to turn on their computers and get involved in the 21st century. Old people will fight any change you can come up with, but this time they are fighting a losing battle and they know it. Our biggest helper is the GPS because it requires the same dedication as the computer, our big watches, cameras, and almost everything else that we come in contact with on a daily basis as users of technology. Eventually, education will come out as the winner.
The simplicity of registering on FAASAFETY.GOV and then following the tutorials to the various pages is going to guarantee that this program will work and eventually be the best thing that we have come up with for educating our aviation community. The more aviation industry firms that we can get to participate will guarantee that even more aviators and enthusiasts will want to be an active part of this group. At your disposal are interesting seminars and meetings, a chance to learn the latest information, an educational outlet that will keep you current, all located within a short distance of your airport, and all of it is FREE!
Why didn’t we come up with this concept before? Probably because we had some convincing to do at the top of our food chain that this idea of education would work better than 100% enforcement. And it was not all the FAA; pilots can be hard headed too. They did and still do find excuses not to attend or be a part of www.faasafety.gov or any part of the FAASTeam Program. Could it be they want to wait until it becomes mandatory and you have to pay for each session before they join us? Or just maybe they think the ability to operate a computer will get even easier if they just wait.
Safety education is working now and we are having fewer accidents, incidents and fatalities. It’s because we are smarter about what we do and how we do it. Take just a moment today and get the latest schedule, find a friend who attends or needs to, register for the event, and then make a point to be there. Feel free to give me a call if you have questions. I can pull up the events that are being offered all over the United States and tell you what the subject matter will be and who the presenter will be. In about 5 minutes I can show you how to do that yourself. I look forward to hearing from you and then seeing you attend.
Please remember that if an emergency does arise, you will react just as you were trained, no better and no worse.
Written permission from the author is required to reprint this copyrighted article (2009).
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