As we move into the last third of the 2010 air show season, we continue to receive indications that our new safety culture is taking root in every segment of the air show community.
The safety reporting systems instituted by ICAS two years ago (Incident Response Process and ICAS Confidential Reporting System) are now producing frequent reports of possible safety incidents that are helping the industry to understand the nature and root causes of air show safety hazards.
At the same time and after some initial confusion, ICAS members now seem to understand that the process of identifying incidents and mitigating risk is not intended to be a punitive process. The air show community now recognizes that we cannot work together to mitigate risk and improve safety until we understand the nature, frequency and root causes of that risk.
Members throughout the United States and Canada – both performers and event organizers – agree that safety has become a frequent and acceptable topic of conversation in mixed air show company. Discussions about safety are no longer seen as implicit criticism. And specific expressions of concern are being received with an understanding that the comments are being made from a positive and constructive perspective.
A couple of examples:
An ICAS member air show now holds a safety de-brief at the end of the day on Friday and Saturday to discuss safety incidents that came up that day. At their show this year, a number of individuals associated with the show noticed that one particular jet performer was “low and slow” during a low-level rolling maneuver. The air boss was tasked with discussing this issue with the pilot, privately and in the spirit of helping to mitigate a possible risk. The pilot agreed that he was pushing his performance envelope and expressed appreciation that the show management had taken the time to express their concern.
ICAS received multiple calls from different members about a botched maneuver during a recent air show. The issue was brought to the attention of the performing pilot constructively and with the desired outcome. ICAS members now understand that the process of developing data points and identifying trends requires their involvement. And, after two years, they also understand that the process is not punitive and they are not being “tattle tales” if they bring an incident to the attention of ICAS. More and more members are making use of the ICAS Confidential Reporting System to help ensure that the data point is captured for the “greater good.”