Annual Report of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation

Focusing on a New Decade

May 1, 1992

Honing goals to tackle new initiatives

During 1991, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation drew up blueprints for serving the future education and training needs of general aviation. Like a flight plan, these blueprints are guiding the foundation on a course to more effective programs and a broadened outreach to pilots. Our goal is simple: Provide general aviation with the very best safety information, specialized training, and accident research possible. This goal isn't a new one for us, but our renewed dedication to it is.

Concerned that our existing efforts were not meeting the needs of enough pilots, we began in 1991 an extensive evaluation of each program to identify ways to improve it or replace it with something better. The first step in drafting this master plan was meeting with pilots of various experience levels to ask how the ASF could best serve their needs. In special forums, known as focus groups, these pilots suggested directions for both new and existing programs.

I then asked industry leaders, including those on our board of visitors, to weigh comments from the focus groups. I also conferred with aviation educators, the directors of state aviation agencies, and federal government officials to ask them to evaluate new approaches in education and training.

By listening carefully and considering this wise counsel, we were able to measure the effectiveness of our current activities and draw up new training programs for the 1990s.

In 1991, we looked not only at the products offered by the ASF, but also at the organization itself. Every organization, including a nonprofit foundation, must prepare for the economic realities of the times. After careful analysis, the foundation's trustees toward year's end designed a more efficient organizational structure. The changes will ensure sound financial operations and a growing endowment.

Among the changes is a closer working relationship between AOPA and the ASF. For maximum cost efficiency, AOPA now will provide all administrative and support functions to the foundation, though the two remain separate organizations. The foundation staff will concentrate fully on innovative education and training materials for pilots. I, meanwhile, will redirect my efforts toward broader foundation issues and new research into human factors. An executive director will be appointed soon to oversee day- to-day operations of the foundation.

With these changes and the continuing support of each AOPA member, the foundation will redouble its efforts to reach the largest possible number of pilots through new and existing training programs.

I believe we can further reduce aircraft accidents if we quickly identify where mistakes are being made and then develop training materials to address those weaknesses. Our primary tool along those lines is the foundation's Emil Buehler Center for Aviation Safety and its extensive statistical database on general aviation accidents. The Buehler Center Aviation Safety Database now contains all final reports on general aviation accidents since 1982. Homebuilt aircraft accident statistics were added in 1991, and in 1992, we plan to add reports from 1,500 past rotorcraft accidents. We can study these accidents through 82 different parameters.

This extensive database allows us to conduct in-depth general aviation research in areas historically available only for air carriers and the military.

Among the fruits of this work is the new _Joseph T. Nall General Aviation Safety Report._ The _Nall Report_ summarizes the past year's preliminary general aviation accident data as soon as new safety statistics are announced by the National Transportation Safety Board. The report allows pilots to learn from the previous year's accidents as soon as possible.

Another new vehicle for disseminating important accident avoidance information is our _Air Safety Report_ newsletter, sent quarterly to all the ASF donors. The first issue of the newsletter was made possible through a grant from the Whitaker Foundation. In this publication, pilots relate personal in-flight mistakes in hopes that others may learn and avoid the same errors.

In keeping with the ASF's tradition of producing timely safety pamphlets for safety seminars, fly-ins, and pilot gatherings, we published several new ones in 1991. With grants from Avemco insurance Company and FlightSafety International we produced: "Single-Pilot IFR"; "Mountain Flying"; "Special-Use Airspace"; "Basic Fuel Management"; "Hidden Hazards"; "The Instructor's Guide to the Pre-Solo Written Exam"; and "Flying Light Twin- Engine Aircraft."

One of the foundation's biggest goals of 1991 was to improve public awareness of the Buehler Center for Aviation Safety and increase availability of its database products for all segments of the aviation community. To this end, we established cooperative relationships with five national pilot organizations last year. Ten major universities began using the database to enhance their research. In addition, the foundation is discussing sales of Buehler Center data to two large aviation insurers.

On another front, the foundation is providing localized semiannual reports and in-depth state-by-state accident analyses under a new program with state aviation departments and the National Association of State Aviation Officials.

We're also working closer than ever with the FAA and NTSB to provide the most current accident information possible. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is also our partner in pilot education. NASA now shares its extensive Aviation Safety Reporting System database on voluntary air safety incident reports with the foundation.

Among major safety studies undertaken by the ASF was one on human performance. The Buehler Center will study human factors in more than 12,500 accidents where pilot error was cited for probable cause. This research is made possible by grants from foundations, pilots, and leading corporations, including the William H. Donner Foundation, the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, The Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust, The Chatlos Foundation, Delta Airlines, The Phoebe Haas Trust, and members of the Pitcairn family of Philadelphia.

Grants from corporations, private foundations, and granting agencies underwrote many of the foundation's activities in 1991. In fact, grants reached $691,000, the highest level in the foundation's history.

The foundation surpassed its 1991 goal of $1.95 million in donations from pilots. Among the contributors were 7,500 new donors. AOPA members alone contributed more than 37,000 individual gifts totaling more than $1.5 million. Above and beyond the contributions that are a part of their regular association dues, 14,000 AOPA members provided $150,000 in contributions.

In its inaugural year, the foundation's Hat-in-the-Ring Society gained 41 leadership members, each of whom gave $1,000 or more. All in all, our donor base has grown to more than 43,000 contributors.

An important fund-raiser for the foundation is the auction conducted each year at the AOPA convention. The auction of donated avionics and pilot- related goods from manufacturers that support the foundation netted $26,000 at AOPA Expo '91, up from $22,000 at the 1990 convention.

One of our biggest fund-raising successes of the year came from the challenge grant of Tom and Melinda Haas of Keene, New Hampshire. Tom is an AOPA member, a flight instructor, and a member of the foundation's board of visitors. He and Melinda challenged the members of the foundation's board of visitors and board of trustees to match their $100,000 grant. The members responded, and the challenge generated nearly $500,000.

Despite the difficult economic times of 1991, the foundation's fund drives exceeded expectations. But faced with fewer assets during the economic downturn, corporate donors and private foundations increasingly provided grants restricted to the initiation or completion of specific current projects. This, coupled with the absence of several key funding sources last year, caused the foundation to end 1991 with a manageable 1.5-percent shortfall.

Considering substantial year-end grants available for use in 1992, firm commitments of continued corporate giving, and a pledge of increased administrative support from AOPA, the foundation began 1992 in a strong position. And with the loyalty of individual pilots, we see only stability and success in the coming years.


Donald D. Engen
1991 President, AOPA Air Safety Foundation
1992 Chairman, ASF Board of Visitors

Our biggest tool to help identify accident causes is the Buehler Center's 570- page General Aviation Accident Analysis Book, the first-ever assessment of causes, contributing factors, pilot experience, and aircraft type involvement in more than 16,000 general aviation accidents. The Analysis Book, published in 1991, is an invaluable aid to understanding root causes of general aviation accidents.

ASF completed its four-volume "Pilot's Manual" series in 1991 with the publication of The Airplane and Flight Operations. The series, which has been hailed by many as the nation's best new flight training guide, now leads the beginning pilot from first flight through instrument and commercial examinations. Also in 1991, the foundation updated The Flight Instructor's Companion, a pocket-size reference for flight instructors, and reprinted The Flight Instructor's Handbook.

ASF has found videos to be one of its most effective means of meeting the training needs of pilots. Videos can dramatically illustrate concepts and then make them understandable, from the forces at work when an airplane flies to how pilots react under stress. One new video initiated in 1991 is Single- Pilot IFR. This video, underwritten by Avemco, will show how a lone pilot can improve cockpit management and reduce the stress of solo instrument flight. Other new videos include Mountain Flying and Special-Use Airspace. A unique series of new videos meant to elicit thought and discussion in a seminar setting is the "Trigger Tape." Each video follows an accident scenario as it unfolds. The events are meant to trigger group discussion of pilot judgment, aeronautical decision-making, and human factors.

One of the foundation's most timely safety tools is the Safety Update, a weekly bulletin on the most recent aviation accidents. The quarterly Flight Instructor's Safety Report, now in its tenth year of publication, offers flight instructors insight on current instructional issues and related accident analyses.

In 1991, the foundation introduced a revamped Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC). A substantial investment in completely new, state-of-the-art graphics and a new marketing program paid off. In 1991, more than 7,000 flight instructors received the foundation's revalidation training at 78 sites nationwide. Those who attend a FIRC receive the new Medallion Card, a symbol of the CFI's commitment to professionalism.

The foundation's Weekend Flight Training Clinics served the pilot well for several years, but the program was suspended late in 1991 while evaluation of new approaches to one-on-one flight training continued. After careful research of just what pilots want in a weekend training session, the foundation began developing the ProClinic. This new approach to intensive flight instruction premieres this spring.