A “silver splash” this week in Wichita: Bombardier made the decision just 60 days ago to host its 25th Safety Standdown in person—but the mature event has once again drawn a significant cross-section of professional pilots and corporate flight departments attending.
The two-day symposium runs Tuesday and Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, with a livestream available for remote participants.
The first day kicked off with opening remarks from Bombardier’s JC Gallagher, executive vice president of services and support and strategy, NBAA’s president and CEO Ed Bolen, and FAA regional administrator for the Central Region Joe Miniace. The “courageous decision” made by the company to host the conference in person was noted—an indication of how important the meeting has become to those who understand its value.
A “safety standdown” in military parlance refers to a cessation of all operations to enable all personnel turn their complete focus onto safety.
“For a quarter of a century, Bombardier has led the industry in providing aviation professionals with critical knowledge-based aviation training, and this year’s lineup certainly underscores the concepts expressed in our theme, ‘Learn, Apply, Share,’” said Bombardier executive Andy Nureddin, head of the Global 7500 program and past leader of the Safety Standdown program.
“For 25 years, the purpose of this invaluable event is to foster a community of aviation professionals who are committed to lifelong learning and to disseminating higher standards of safety and professionalism throughout the industry.”
Nureddin handed over leadership of the Standdown this year to Chris Milligan, vice president of pre-owned aircraft services and flight operations.
Tapping Into Experts
The Bombardier Safety Standdown brings together a portfolio of well-regarded safety experts and industry leaders to dive deeply into such topics as:
- Safety management systems (SMSs)
- Pilot proficiency
- Flight crew and other personnel shortages
- Loss of control in-flight
Bombardier’s J.C. Gallagher noted the looming workforce crisis facing corporate aviation. “We’re going to lose thousands of pilots, dispatchers, engineers,” he said, as the airlines ramp up operations and continue to grow. Traditionally, commercial operators have hired personnel away from business aviation.
Tony Kern, of Convergent Performance and popular speaker at past standdowns, launched the safety sessions with “Armored Knight,” in which he likened pilots to the knights of medieval times, and a safety management system to the suit of armor they would wear. “Armor without a knight is just a museum piece,” said Kern.
“A ‘knight’ without the ‘armor’… might fly safely for years.” Until the moment that SMS is needed—and then any holes in the armor can lead to an incident or accident.
In a second Tuesday morning segment, “25 Years of Automation Airmanship,” Christopher Lutat of Convergent Performance took on the topic of the UAS—undesired aircraft state—defined in safety and accident analysis as a result of ubiquitous automation and autoflight modes in modern aircraft.
Lutat pointed out the axiom to remember: “If the autoflight got you into the jam, don’t count on it to get you out of it.”
He also noted the predisposition of pilots to continue an approach, for example, with a bias toward completing a landing out of unstabilized approach, when a go-around is the safer course of action based on prior data. The internal argument? “I land a whole lot more than I go-around,” and therefore the pilot has a higher degree of belief in their ability to salvage the landing.
An afternoon of workshops followed on Tuesday, with a full day of seminars continuing on Wednesday.