FAA’s Plea to Pilots: Fly Safely this Summer

As the busy summer flying season kicks off, the FAA is taking a slightly different approach to safety by asking pilots, well, to fly safely.

In an open letter to the general aviation community sent just before the Memorial Day weekend, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta implored aviators to “make sure you’re ready – really ready – to fly.”

“[T]his summer – this flying season – we need you to make a personal commitment to understand your strengths and limitations, to use a personal minimums checklist, and make sure you are ready each and every time you fly,” Huerta wrote. “If we make that commitment, then together we’ll reduce fatal accidents.”

The FAA and NTSB have voiced their growing frustration over the fact that the general aviation fatal accident rate has stayed the same over the past five years despite efforts to improve safety. So far this fiscal year, 149 fatal accidents have claimed the lives of 262 people, FAA officials note.

“We cannot become complacent about safety,” Huerta said. “Together, we must improve the safety culture to drive the GA fatal accident rate lower.”

Huerta’s suggestions for general aviation pilots this summer include: flying with an instructor to brush up on your skills; paying special attention to the weather and being willing to fly another day if the conditions are beyond your capabilities; talking with fellow pilots about safety as often as you can to help instill a community-wide safety culture; and intervening if you see someone else doing something unsafe.

That’s the short-term fix for now. As a long-term solution, Huerta has called on the aviation community to install life-saving equipment, including angle of attack indicators, inflatable restraints and two-axis autopilots in existing GA airplanes. The FAA is also overhauling training and testing standards to bring them up to date with current technology while incorporating risk-management and decision-making skills.

Will the Administrator’s initiative have a positive impact? We’ll report back at the end of the summer to let you know if his plea was successful in moving the safety needle.

In the meantime, you have your instructions: Fly safely!


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