aircraft waiting at hangar

The FAR Part 91 sector of aviation has long enjoyed an admirable safety record. Business aviation has always been perceived as a very safe and efficient way to fly.

But much has happened in the world over the last few years that has impacted business aviation. Significant among the changes is a decrease in engagement caused by the downturn in flying during COVID and the outflow of talent to the airlines.

So, what has been the impact of recent world events on business aviation, especially as it relates to safety? And what is the current state of safety in the business aviation industry sector? To get the latest perspective, we asked a randomly selected group of 19 current directors of aviation in the business aviation sector what they thought. Their answers to key questions are below.

What is the level of engagement with the SMS within your flight department?

This question sought visibility into how well the Safety Management System (SMS) is embedded within the flight department by functional group. The highest level of engagement was from flight operations, likely due to the pilot-centric focus of the registration standards. Lower levels of engagement were experienced from the Maintenance and Scheduling functional groups.

Is your SMS proactive and effective?

Here we probed how effective each aviation director thought their SMS is at finding and adequately addressing safety concerns.

Many of them who answered “yes” to this question at the same time expressed some degree of reservation about the effectiveness of their SMS. These reservations included complacency and low utilization, therefore causing the overall effectiveness of the SMS to be below the level to which the department aspires.

Another factor behind the high degree of affirmative responses could be the reluctance to acknowledge that their SMS is not as effective as it should be, especially given the level of effort that went into its establishment.

What are the barriers to SMS…