The Change in our Culture of Safety: Let’s Make it Personal


The ICAS ACE Committee – and, indeed, the entire ICAS organization – are committed to improving safety within our industry. If you’re happy and safe, we’re happy. Since the program was launched in December of 2007, we’ve made measurable progress in our collective commitment to put “Safety First” and we hope that these improvements will continue through the rest of the 2009 air show season.

But, even with the improvements we have made, we’ve had accidents and near misses. It prompts the obvious question: why, with the heavy emphasis that our entire industry is putting on safety, do we still have pilots who stray outside of the safety envelope and put themselves at risk? Why do some drivers on the highway speed excessively, switch lanes with a vengeance, and – generally – drive rudely and dangerously? Type A personalities? Maybe, but we have lots of type A pilots in our group that manage to get a handle on their aggressive spirit by designing their routines and practices with a discipline that keeps them safe.

Bad planning and carrying through with a maneuver when the outcome is uncertain is one of the most dangerous areas that we can delve into. The performer’s ability and maturity in recognizing and blocking ventures into this area of uncertain outcomes is a developed skill. The pilot must make this decision process an easy option.

We’ve not yet met the air show performer who has made it his goal to die in a fiery air show accident. But none of us is immune to impulsive behavior or the occasional poor decision, either. That’s why, as we all pursue this very important change in the culture of air show safety, we need to look out for each other. When we occasionally step over that line between good and bad judgment, we need our peers to be a buddy and approach us about perceived unsafe flying. A “buddy” isn’t a coach or a critic, but just a pal who cares about the safety of the pilot, the spectators, and our business.

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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.