Making Safety Scintillating

Vanessa Christie

By Vanessa Christie
Chief Executive Officer, Prevailance Aerospace

Posted on January 31, 2022
pilot safety check

Safety and risk management—two concepts that likely are not the most scintillating to enter your day. Do not let that dissuade you. If these two notions are not at the forefront of every aviation decision you are making, it is time to readdress your paradigm.

Flights That Get Your Attention
Have you ever been airborne on a commercial airplane and wondered what was going on in the cockpit? Maybe it was a bit too much turbulence, an unexpectedly high angle of bank or even a loud thud-like sound and then screeching (“Is that the landing gear?”) that instantaneously had you sitting a bit taller in your seat.

Whether you have experience as a pilot or consistently ride as a passenger, your body physiologically tries to figure out what is going on and determine if the pilot is still in control. You may also automatically do a quick run through of your favorite prayer. I hate that feeling. It is the epitome of feeling that you aren’t safe and haven’t managed your own risks appropriately.

Thankfully, these rare occasions have passed uneventfully, and I remain here to write this while you remain here to read it. Every time I reflect on what would have made an alarming experience less concerning, I cannot help but consider the experience of the pilot in the cockpit.

Having spent many days with diversely experienced pilots, I enjoy a certain peace in knowing that either through time or experience, the person in the front of the aircraft is prepared for anything. There are those few minutes at the beginning of the flight or maybe in a flight brief where you understand the flight experience of the pilot and the preparedness with which that person arrives in the cockpit.

Awareness of their strong knowledge foundation makes the turbulence feel less threatening, the angles of bank feel less severe and the lowering of the gear seem insignificant. You have confidence that the safety standards of the pilot have mitigated the risks associated with your flight and flights in general.

Training Programs That Take Pilots to the Next Level
There are few flight training programs that push pilots to the next level. I am referring to the opportunity to look at diverse flight parameters and manage an aircraft’s energy to maintain sustainable flight.

A pilot who can maneuver an airplane through every attitude, maintaining situational awareness to aerodynamics and the energy state of the aircraft, is one who is best prepared for any of the hazards that each of us face in aviation today. Whether it is a weather-related challenge, a systems-related challenge or even an internal physiological or mental challenge with the human in the cockpit, response time is minimized with effective training. The video below is a solid reference to energy management and proficiency at every attitude.

Pilots capable of effectively maneuvering airplanes in this manner are best prepared for the unexpected when airborne. This is energy management and an understanding of aerodynamics at the next level.

Back to the scintillating nature of safety and risk management… The FAA’s General Aviation Joint Steering Committee recently published a safety enhancement topic that addresses “the right stuff” for pilots and true preparedness. It states that:

“…the discipline of planning for both positive and adverse outcomes is one of the most essential
elements in the mysterious mix that makes up the “right stuff” to be a pilot. For a good pilot,
that right stuff includes solid training, regular practice, and the discipline to strive for proficiency
and perfection on every flight.”1

A good safety program specifies definitive requirements in alignment with the latest industry guidance and it must also include something that pushes you out of your comfort zone. It should make you want to stretch your capabilities in order to be better prepared. If it does not do that, it needs a makeover—possibly one that could be referred to as scintillating.

Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone to Reduce Unknowns
Effective safety and risk management comes from consistently working hard to reduce as many of the unknowns as you can in each flight evolution. That means going outside the limits of what is comfortable and striving for perfection along the edges of your operating envelope. Only by continually broadening one’s spectrum of proficiency can a pilot continually improve their preparation and minimize the response time required to mitigate startle.

According to Aviation Week, private jet travel will continue to be more accessible and more affordable in 2022.2 This is great news for everyone in the aviation industry. It means more pilot positions, more safety programs, more risk management and more opportunities for private individuals to access the freedom of flying—flying to meetings, corporate events or moving families across the country in a way that saves time, leverages the aviation industry that exists and allows more people to enjoy the spirit of aviation.

Our Shared Responsibility for Safety
As flying becomes more accessible and more people experience travel in executive jets or private planes of any sort, it is critical to check the credentials of the pilot that is transporting your most precious cargo. Do not leave that training pipeline, that safety element, that necessity of risk management to strangers. Advocacy starts with each one of us.

Make sure the aircraft itself is in alignment with all FAA regulations and make sure your pilot is trained. For the latter, not just trained with the minimum credentials, but endorsed to the highest levels that training can provide.

For me, that training includes on-aircraft upset prevention & recovery training (UPRT). Ask for it while booking your next charter, and if your pilots do not have it, make sure they get it. It is a small price to pay—roughly $4,000 per pilot per year—to improve safety and mitigate risk.

Why UPRT? An effective UPRT program provides pilots with a flight experience of sufficient intensity to elicit a startle response and provides a methodology for efficient recovery. Intensity does not reduce the applicability of safety. In fact, if a pilot under training does not believe that a program is safe—either due to the aircraft used for the training or the proficiency of the instructor—learning is limited.

However, in a safe platform with an experienced instructor, it is easy for pilots to stretch outside of the attitudes where each is comfortable and explore energy management. This exposure and intense emphasis on aerodynamics provides each pilot with the ability to bring any given airplane back to straight and level flight parameters.

Whether you fly regularly on commercial airplanes, private jets or single engine props, having faith in the pilot and the airframe that you are flying in makes a huge difference. Let the concepts of safety and risk management be scintillating today. Inspire yourself, your flight department and/or your vendor of choice to achieve more through regular training designed to protect your families, teams and organizations. It is a small ask that inspires peace of mind in every flight.

1 FAA Aviation Safety. Managing the Unexpected.
2 Carey, B. Business Aviation Innovations to Watch in 2022. Aviation Week.

Prevailance Aerospace Prevailance Aerospace
Prevailance Aerospace is a UPRT provider that has been working with corporate, government, and general aviation pilots to improve safety in the aviation industry. Prevailance Aerospace uses Extra 300 Series Aircraft for training and our pilots are experienced aviation professionals from various military and general aviation backgrounds. We know that successful aviation endeavors are accomplished through an uncompromising commitment to safety, impeccable professionalism, tremendous attention to detail, and constant improvement.

© 2024 Prevailance Aerospace. All Rights Reserved.

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