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Making Safety and Security Top Priorities

Making Safety and Security Top Priorities


It’s a fact: Safety and security have always been top priorities for business aircraft operators.  The record for business aviation safety is comparable to that for the commercial airlines, and the industry employs a host of voluntary and regulatory measures to ensure airports, airplanes, pilots and passengers are secure.

Business airplanes, which are among the most sophisticated aircraft flying, are equipped with the latest safety equipment, including collision avoidance systems, ground proximity warning systems, severe-weather detection units, head-up displays and enhanced and synthetic vision systems.

In addition, business aircraft profes-sionals are among the most highly trained personnel in the aviation industry. Pilots and maintenance technicians are required to undergo extensive initial instruction in order to qualify to operate and maintain business aircraft, and recurrent train-ing ensures that the skills of these professionals remain sharp.

Perhaps most importantly, the busi-ness aviation community is commit-ted to the furtherance of a safety culture that is engrained in the people and organizations that fly business aircraft. Dedicated operators have a mindset that sees safety as a way of life in which a systematic, unwav-ering adherence to safe, standard operating procedures is paramount.

To ensure the widespread use of safety best practices throughout the industry, NBAA provides air-craft operators with guidance on all matters related to the safe opera-tion of aircraft, both in the air and on the ground. The NBAA Safety Committee also created a list of Top 10 Safety Focus Areas to make operators aware of areas for im-provement and available association resources. Additionally, for 60 years NBAA has presented Flying Safety Awards to recognize companies for exceptional achievement in main-taining safe flying operations.

Fast Facts

  • Business aviation has achieved a safety record that is comparable to that of the major airlines.
  • Besides complying with stringent government safety and security regulations, business aircraft operators participate in a variety of voluntary programs designed to enhance safety and security.
  • Numerous federal officials, including the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, have found that general aviation “does not present a serious homeland security vulnerability.”


Safety management systems (SMS) are the logical extension of the industry’s ongoing commitment to enhancing safety. Through the use of a formal SMS, aircraft operators can proactively identify potential hazards and systematically manage those risks.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, which establishes worldwide standards for aviation, has specified that an SMS requirement be incorporated into national safety regulations for operators of non-commercial aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds maxi-mum takeoff weight or those that are turbojet-powered, which covers most business airplanes

To meet this SMS requirement, the International Business Aviation Council, of which NBAA is a founding member, developed the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO). This code of best practices is designed to help flight departments worldwide achieve high levels of safety and professionalism.


Besides meeting stringent government safety regulations, business aircraft operators are involved in
a number of voluntary programs designed to reduce accidents and incidents. For example, some flight departments participate in flight operational quality assurance programs, which collect and analyze data recorded during flight to improve the safety of flight, air traffic control procedures, and airport and aircraft design and maintenance.

Many business aircraft operators also encourage their personnel to participate in NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). This program provides a forum in which pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, ground personnel, air traffic controllers and others can voluntary share information about unsafe situations that they have encountered or observed.


For entrepreneurs and companies that rely on business aircraft, security is their highest priority. In fact, one of the reasons why companies utilize business aircraft is for the high level of security they provide.

Business aviation has been a leader in travel security for decades, and in the years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the industry has continued working to protect airports, aircraft, aircrews and passengers from terrorist threats. Actions taken include: Š

  • Pilots at small airports report suspicious activity via a toll-free Airport Watch Program number staffed 24/7 by TSA officials.
  • The aircraft manufacturing and sales community has procedures in place to report suspicious financial transactions during the purchase or sale of an aircraft.
  • U.S. law-enforcement agencies crosscheck the FAA’s airman and aircraft registries against known terrorist and criminal databases.
  • The FAA issues tamper-proof licenses for aviation personnel.
  • Pilots are always required to carry tamper-proof identification.
  • The flight-training industry complies with strict government standards that screen non-U.S. citizens seeking flight training in the U.S.
  • As commercial operations, chartered business aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds must comply with TSA-mandated security procedures similar to those of the airlines.
  • Business aircraft flying to or from the U.S. must provide aircraft data and passenger manifests to Customs and Border Protection prior to departure
  • The industry continues exploring ways to make emerging proposals from the TSA and other agencies workable and effective.

These and other steps have been effective in protecting the industry from security threats. Numerous federal officials, including the Department of Homeland Security inspector general, have found that general aviation “does not present a serious homeland security vulnerability.”

NBAA and the business aviation community will continue to advocate for policies that enhance the security of business aviation without unnecessarily disrupting the mobility and flexibility that it requires. The industry will also continue to work with federal security officials to review existing programs, evaluate the need for enhancements and help the government allocate scarce resources where they can be most effectively utilized.



Source: National Business Aviation Association