Tombstone Mentality

“In avi­a­tion safety, tomb­stone men­tal­ity is a per­va­sive at­ti­tude of ig­nor­ing defects un­til peo­ple have died be­cause of them.”—Wikipedia

For years, US avi­a­tion safety progress was on the backs of the dead for com­mer­cial car­ri­ers. To change at least pi­lot in­duced ac­ci­dents, the ma­jor air­lines in­ter­nally cre­ated a pro­gram called the Ad­vanced Qual­ifi­ca­tion Pro­gram (AQP). This pro­gram wasn’t man­dated by the FAA but de­vel­oped by the car­ri­ers them­selves. AQP in a nut­shell is prac­tic­ing the things that will kill you in a plane, not what the FAA tests for the abil­ity to fly the plane. Most safety offi­cials and in­surance com­pa­nies point to this as the sin­gle biggest fac­tor in driv­ing mor­tal­ity rates to zero in FAA part 121 car­rier op­er­a­tions in the USA. Part 121 op­er­a­tions are where there is a sched­uled flight times and ad­vanced ticket sales.

Gen­eral Avi­a­tion, some­times called pri­vate pi­lots (part 91) and the first step in com­mer­cial avi­a­tion (FAA part 135) where flights are char­tered, op­er­ate on a lower stan­dard of test­ing for pi­lots and on air­craft main­te­nance than part 121. The prob­lem is that based on per miles flown, you could make an ar­gu­ment that part 91 and 135 pi­lots are tak­ing perfectly good air­planes and crash­ing them at an alarm­ing rate that can eas­ily be avoided. From the Ad­di­son Texas in­ci­dent and even the Dale Earn­hardt small busi­ness jet plane crash in the last year, just a few of these ad­di­tional profi­ciency tests in simu­la­tors could have avoided most all these ma­jor failures.

“It quickly be­came clear this (AQP) has the po­ten­tial to af­fect mas­sive change in gen­eral avi­a­tion. An AQP is ad­vanced qual­ifi­ca­tion pro­gram. It says that you can de­sign your own check ride ma­neu­vers spe­cific to what you are want­ing to do. The air­lines prac­tice and re­view the ma­neu­vers that are to­tally crit­i­cal to them. Gen­eral avi­a­tion keeps on prac­tic­ing and re­view­ing steep turns and Shon­dells. When do we need a steep turn to get us out of some­thing? How about the ma­neu­vers that are ac­tu­ally go­ing to kill us? How about af­ter you get your pri­vates li­cense? If you learn what the ma­neu­vers are that are ac­tu­ally go­ing to kill you, if you prac­tice those so that you can ab­solutely be ready to deal with any of those at any time.” Dan Gryder

Dan Gry­der has started a grass roots move­ment backed by the most pop­u­lar pri­vate avi­a­tion chan­nels on YouTube. With 224 fatal gen­eral avi­a­tion ac­ci­dents in 2019 it was high time some­one spoke up with a solu­tion. Pri­vate pi­lots us­ing proven in­struc­tion in com­mer­cial avi­a­tion seems so easy an an­swer. My ques­tions start with how likely this is to catch on with pri­vate pi­lots where there is not a sin­gle en­tity in charge. I call it the herd­ing cat’s phe­nom­ena. What other ar­eas of proven safety have not mi­grated to pub­lic or civilian adop­tion in other sec­tors?





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