CJP 2022: “The Quest for Safety” Focuses on Importance of Data Sharing
Association Rolls Out FOQA Initiative for Members
CJP Safety Committee Chair Charlie Precourt led off the annual Safety Standdown at CJP 2022 with an impressive announcement. “We are now at two-years plus, with 900 jets in our membership and not a single accident or incident among them,” he said. “While we can’t directly connect cause and effect, we must be doing something right.”
The Standdown continued with “The Quest for Safety,” featuring Robert Switz, fleet program director at fractional ownership provider NetJets and FlightSafety International’s Mark Kleinhans.
“Over the past 12 months, we’ve had a total of about 350,000 flights,” Switz noted. “That’s roughly a takeoff and landing every 45 seconds.” NetJets’ US operation alone flew 617,924 total flight hours over the same period, he added, equivalent to “about seven years of time in the air, 7,194 orbits around the Earth or 398 trips to the moon and back.”
Switz further noted the company has logged two incidents over the past five years, both related to turbulence. Maintaining that strong safety record is a challenge as the company continues to grow.
“We use flows often, backed up against the checklist,” he said. “For example, [following an incident in which the crews left the keys to the aircraft in door during a flight] we added a second aircraft walkaround in the opposite direction (counter-clockwise) to look at the airplane in a different light.”
Flight training is also key to maintaining safety, and Kleinhans, director of safety at FSI, acknowledged the difficulties to accommodate demand in the post-COVID environment. “We are worldwide provider with 29 learning centers around the world with 1800 instructors employed,” he said. “We hired 260 new instructors this year and we’re doing our best to keep up with the increased demand in this tough, tough environment.”
FSI operates 310 full flight simulators and 75 flight training devices, representing 130 aircraft models and 20 manufacturers. “Over the last 12 months we delivered 112,000 training courses representing 1.7 million training hours,” Kleinhans continued. “In our simulators we’ve had 632,000 takeoffs and 617,000 landings.”
Those numbers drew understanding chuckles of the benefits simulators offer to practicing specific operations multiple times. The company has also taken a data-driven approach to identifying potential accident scenarios, partnering with flight data analysis provider GE Digital for insights into areas needing greater training focus.
“FlightSafety has always been known for developing highly proficient pilots, but we know from the industry data that even a proficient pilot may get themselves into a situation they may not be quite prepared for in that moment, on that day and that time,” he said. “Being proficient isn’t good enough anymore; we really need all of our clients be prepared for the real world as well.”
To that point, Switz pointed to NetJets’ analysis of company approaches into California’s Truckee-Tahoe Airport (TRK). Data from the company’s flight operations quality assurance (FOQA) program revealed multiple airspeed, altitude and flight path deviations.
“So, we created our own [company] visual approach procedure into Truckee and the instructions for pilots to use it,” he said. “They’ll open up their iPad, pull up the approach and they’ll look at the instructions telling them exactly how to do it. It gives them all the instructions on how to fly the approach.”
Precourt noted how even one extra minute of preflight planning can make the difference between errors on the flight deck versus an uneventful and unhurried trip. “There’s a lot of pressure on us,” he said. “We get started, get rolling, get on the runway and take off… and five minutes [later] realize the NAV wasn’t loaded. Just that extra 60 seconds on the chocks can make all the difference.”
CJP Launches FOQA Initiative
A member FOQA program is also a key part of CJP’s ongoing safety initiatives, and played a vital role last year in the development and execution of the association’s Safe to Land (sm) initiative. Precourt presented an overview of FOQA options now available for various Citation models and how that data can be disseminated.
“Functionally, you have your aircraft’s avionics data bus that feeds a number of parameters into a [data] recorder,” he explained, noting several providers had their offerings displayed in the exhibit area. “As soon as you power off, the instrument has an internal battery that sends a Wi-Fi or cell phone signal up to the cloud so that it can be analyzed,” Precourt said. In many cases, that analysis report is downloaded to the pilot’s computer or smartphone within five minutes.
Above all, pilots shouldn’t fear FOQA but recognize it as a useful tool toward improving their performance. The data is also deidentified when shared with flight operations or outside analysts to determine solely “what’s [going] right, not who’s right,” Precourt added.
Perhaps the most common question among CJP members is how FOQA may help them lower insurance rates and assist in their discussions with insurance underwriters, particularly for older pilots. Precourt expressed cautious optimism
“We’ve had a number of discussions with underwriters and brokers, and they’re in the mode of ‘show me the data,'” he said. “This is a form of data, and we can give them a dashboard showing our performance as a [pilot] group and say, ‘here’s a number of pilots that are truly demonstrating they’re in a low risk pool.’
“Now, we just started this,” Precourt continued, “so what we don’t have is [a commitment from insurers] that they’ll give us $10,000 off our premiums next year. But we are highly encouraged that they’re starting to recognize FOQA, the CJP Gold Standard Safety Award and the Safe to Land (sm) initiative, and they’re seeing the noise we’re making in the marketplace is starting to resonate.”
All photos by Stratton DV Imaging