Aviation safety: everybody’s business

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Spoiler alert: The saying on the t-shirt makes great fashion (perhaps), but bad flight safety management. Just sayin’.

Last week, I had a meeting with members of the FAA’s Circle of Safety team. This included Mike Yorke, Danny Billman and Ernie Barrnett. All three are pilots who have committed themselves to maintaining and improving aviation safety in Alaska. COS _Snapseed

Here’s a recent article in the Alaska Dispatch which highlights how passengers can have an influence on safety. CLICK HERE.

Accordingly, here are some key points for travelers:

1. Don’t distract pilots. In small planes, sometimes we’re seated in the co-pilot’s seat. Please take care not to distract the pilot or touch the controls.  Distractions cause problems.

2. Ask if the air carrier participates in a safety program. Here in Alaska, that includes the Medallion Foundation, whcih offers some area-specific  Safety Management Systems (SMS) and crew resource management (CRM) programs.

3. Ask if a flight plan has been filed. More specifically, travelers can ask “How did you file today’s flight plan?”   Elements to a flight plan include: Souls on board, Destination, fuel on board, type of aircraft, pilot in command, indicate if aircraft is equipped with the latest “406” emergency locator device, if there is a transponder on board, N# (aircraft registration), ETA (estimated time of arrival), emergency equipment on board…and so forth.

4. Be apprised of weather forecast at your destination. It’s always a good idea to know about the weather.

5. Wear appropriate clothing. Typically business clothing is not appropriate for rural or Bush flying. Think “layers”.

6. Be alert for pilot fatigue. 

7. Don’t ask pilot to exceed weight limits.  If you’re out hunting–and you get your moose or caribou…it’s the pilot’s job to allocate the extra weight safely. It’s your responsibility to purchase the additional flight time if another plane is required. Don’t push it.

8. Accept a cancellation or delay. Whether it’s weather-related, a mechanical issue or crew-rest…don’t push it.

9. Pay attention to the safety briefing. You may save the pilot’s life…and your own. Know how to find the radio, the fire extinguisher, the emergency gear and so forth.

10. Know the location of safty equipent….see above.

The Circle of Safety is an FAA program in conjunction with air carriers, passengers and pilots. It’s designed to strengthen the “culture of safety” in Alaska, where we are over-dependent on safe, reliable air transport.

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