The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently published its ‘Most Wanted List’ for 2019-2020. The biennial document describes what the NTSB considers transportation's most important safety improvements, and highlights specific areas for development.
The 2019 list included several recommendations regarding improving the safety of Part 135 aircraft flight operations. More specifically, the list recommends to the FAA and broader industry safety improvements related to Part 135 on demand air charter, air medical and air tours.
The NTSB encourages Part 135 operators to implement a safety management system, implement flight data monitoring (FDM) programmes to identify and correct deviations from company procedures and to train fixed-wing aircraft pilots to mitigate the risks of controlled flight into terrain.
The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) was created in 2006 by a safety-focused group of Part 135 charter operators. Its goal is to promote the highest levels of aviation safety through risk management programmes, as well as to advocate and support the industry's adoption of a common audit standard. Both SMS programmes and its own Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) are examples of such safety measures and have been proven to enhance safety performance in the industry.
Another core function of ACSF is to educate passengers that while the FAA regulatory structure is different, the level of safety maintained by many turbine/jet Part 135 operators is equal to, and in some cases better than, Part 121 operators. Additionally, both NATA and ACSF have partnered with the FAA to combat illegal charter.
In light of the Most Wanted List, the ACSF welcomes the opportunity to work closely with the NTSB, the FAA, charter operators and ACSF members to address the recommendations. It sees the Part 135 charter operators' inclusion on this list as a call for action by the Part 135 industry, offering an opportunity to continue safety improvements in the aviation industry by taking a fresh look at the tools it currently uses or that may be available to it.
The opportunity presented is to proactively come together as an industry to voluntarily consider the recommendations in the Most Wanted List. The ACSF believes that it is in the industry's best interest to cooperate with the NTSB and FAA rather than having the FAA place mandatory requirements and standards upon it.
At a minimum, ACSF recommends that its members and the broader charter community consider implementing SMS, FDM, ASAP and Controlled Flight Into Terrain training. It also recommends that every ACSF member/charter operator discusses with its executive team the NTSB Most Wanted List's recommendations.
In addition, ACSF will continue to encourage charter operators to achieve its Industry Audit Standard which has a proven track record of helping operators to avoid incidents and accidents.
ACSF will continue to monitor and engage in dialogue with NTSB and FAA personnel to understand where it can best be of assistance.