Safe Air Shows Require Quality Briefings


The pre-show air show safety briefing sets the standard to which the rest of the air show is conducted. The briefing assures that all participants – performers, narrators, controllers, monitors, air bosses, ground support personnel – will act in concert throughout the show. Here are a few do’s and don’t’s for air show briefings: 

Do enforce the “no brief, no fly” rule. 

Do your homework. Prepare performer hand-outs to include an area map with information on the aerobatic box; taxi routes; field elevation, radio frequency, special-use airspace; alternative airfields with divert instructions and relevant details about the divert fields. Make sure that all performers receive this information when they arrive at the briefing. 

Do plan your briefing. Pick a quiet, easy-to-locate, but not-too-accessible briefing room. Make sure it can handle the numbers expected. Make sure you have the required audio-visual equipment to project visual aids for your briefing. Test them before the briefing to ensure they are working properly.  

Do your pre-brief planning. Check NOTAMs. Check weather. Confirm weather minimums for each act. Finalize air space coordination with regulatory authorities.

Do conduct a thorough briefing that includes an aerial photograph of the aerobatic box and surrounding area with the crowd line and flight lines clearly indicated. Clearly identify show center, aircraft parking areas, taxi routes, pyro areas, parachute landing areas, and corner marker locations. 

Do ensure that you have arranged with the appropriate personnel to brief crash/fire/rescue operations, pyro and weather. 

Do be brief without sacrificing thoroughness. 

Don’t allow the briefing to become a social event. Limit attendance to essential personnel. Don’t permit media, sponsors, spouse, spouse equivalents or pets. Your performers might smile and applaud politely if you turn your briefing into an award ceremony or entertainment event, but they consistently tell ICAS that this annoys the heck out of them.  Don’t mix safety briefings and social events. 

Don’t skip the briefing on day two.   

Don’t violate rule #1: no brief, no fly.

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The International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) is a trade association dedicated to building and sustaining a vibrant air show industry to support its membership. To achieve this goal, ICAS demands its members operate their air show business at only the highest levels of safety, professionalism, and integrity.