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Speech – "General Aviation Safety"

"General Aviation Safety"
Michael Huerta, Washington, DC
October 24, 2017

GA Safety Summit


Good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to see you all again.

We first started this group to address the stubbornly high general aviation fatality rate.

And I’m happy to report we’re seeing results from these efforts.

We’re still finalizing the numbers, but it looks like 2017 will end up being our safest year yet.

Mike [O’Donnell] will be going more in-depth on this later, but the fatal accident rate continues to decline – far below our target rate of one per 100,000 flight hours.

This is a significant accomplishment.

And it wouldn’t have been possible without all of you – and your commitment to advancing general aviation safety.

We all know there’s no silver bullet when it comes to making GA safer.

It’s an issue that needs to be approached from many angles – some regulatory, some technological, some educational.

And we’ve made a lot of progress over the last several years.

With your help, the FAA completed its rewrite of Part 23, which went into effect on August 30th.

We’ve also streamlined the approval process for Non-Required Safety Enhancing Equipment.

These actions will ensure that new GA aircraft can benefit from innovative, performance-based technologies – while making it easier for the existing fleet to modernize and install life-saving equipment.

We’ve also made substantial advances since the GA Joint Steering Committee was revitalized in 2011.

Their data-driven, collaborative efforts have allowed them to spearhead a number of valuable safety enhancements aimed at addressing the most common causes of accidents.

For example, after zeroing in on Loss of Control as the largest cause of fatal accidents, we were able to work together to streamline the process for getting Angle of Attack indicators into cockpits.

But finding technological solutions to problems isn’t enough on its own. We’ve also had to continue educating pilots about risk, and about the tools available to them to help mitigate it.

The GA JSC determined that an organized and united outreach approach would help communicate these important safety messages. So I want to thank you for helping to make the Fly Safe campaign such a success.

Together, we’ve reached millions of our social media followers with information on how to avoid Loss of Control accidents.

This is an impressive list of accomplishments, and it’s one we should all be proud of.

But in aviation, we’re always chasing the perfect.

And as long as general aviation accidents keep occurring, we must stay vigilant and keep finding new ways to advance our shared safety mission.

General aviation’s engagement in ASIAS is crucial. We need to continue using data to identify trends and direct our efforts where they’re needed most.

We also need to focus on developing consensus standards that will support the implementation of the new Part 23.

Industry participation in consensus standards committees will be essential to creating the method the FAA uses to determine compliance with the rule.

Your active engagement in this process is going to determine its success – and I trust you’ll make your voices heard.

Finally, we all need to keep our eye on the January 1, 2020 deadline for GA aircraft to equip with ADS-B.

ADS-B is more than just a critical piece of the FAA’s NextGen modernization efforts. It’s also a life-saving technology.

I want to thank all of you who joined us in promoting the FAA’s year-long ADS-B rebate program.

Unfortunately, only about two-thirds of the rebates were reserved before the program ended in September.

And just under 31,000 GA aircraft currently have ADS-B installations that comply with the mandate.

To put it simply: we’re just not where we want to be a little more than two years out from the deadline.

Moving the needle on this issue is going to require some creativity on all of our parts. And I’m grateful that so many of you are willing to step up and help.

The FAA recently received proposals on some “ultra low cost” and “easy to install” ADS-B Out systems.

We’ll be working closely with the applicants to ensure these devices still meet the mandate’s performance requirements.

But we’re excited about the potential for these kinds of innovative solutions.

This is just one example of why it’s been such a pleasure to work with this group over the years.

When we identify issues that need to be addressed, no one ever says, “That doesn’t concern my members,” or “That’s someone else’s problem.”

Instead, each of you has been willing to roll up your sleeves and ask, “How can we fix this – together?”

With that kind of attitude, I know we can tackle anything that comes our way.

It’s been a pleasure getting to work with each and every one of you over the years.

Thank you for your dedication to improving general aviation safety.

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