May 1, 2001
There's a management saying that "what got you here is not good enough to keep you here." The same applies to organizations. Status quo is not enough, and that was evidenced by the way your AOPA Air Safety Foundation has moved forward in many areas during the past year. We looked for more unique ways to spread the message of "Safe pilots. Safe skies."
The year 2000 marked ASF's fiftieth anniversary, and we celebrated appropriately at AOPA Expo in Long Beach, California. A record crowd at the convention's opening general session saw vignettes from past safety seminars and compared them with our current, and more sophisticated, efforts. Some 1,100 attendees received a free videotape on weather decision making.
General aviation, once again, recorded a better safety year than before. This marks the third consecutive year that GA has broken its record by reducing the number of accidents per hundred thousand flight hours. But that's not enough. There are still hundreds of accidents that could have been prevented by exercising a modicum of judgment and improving pilot skills.
The Joseph T. Nall Report, ASF's analysis of GA accidents from the prior year, continues to receive wide distribution and praise. It is being used by the FAA, NASA, NTSB, and several aviation universities. It's also becoming a standard reference for the media when a high-profile accident occurs. Available in print and online, this document provides a quick overview of problem areas, and compares them to prior years.
ASF conducted more than 250 free safety seminars last year. This program, now into its third decade, works cooperatively with the FAA's aviation safety effort. Several states, including Florida, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia, have provided funding to expand our outreach. Each year more than 30,000 pilots join ASF, local FAA personnel, and volunteer counselors for two-hour programs on topics ranging from weather to GPS operations. It's a great opportunity to learn and exchange information.
But not everyone can make it to a live seminar, nor can we conduct as many seminars in as many locations as we would like. So, for the second year running, ASF sent out more than 35,000 videotapes to new private and newly rated instrument pilots. Project V (for video) was again funded by AOPA and is designed to reach many more pilots than we can address through seminars alone. This is an unprecedented program; I know of no other organization that has invested so many resources to help educate its constituency. The response from pilots has been overwhelmingly positive. Both the FAA and our state partners have assisted, but this effort has the potential to do much more. We intend to broaden Project V as funding permits.
ASF continued as the leader in flight instructor recertification clinics and announced a joint program with Jeppesen to offer recertification online while continuing the live programs in more than 100 locations nationwide. That program will begin in 2001. We continued to send a quarterly safety newsletter, Instructor Report, free to every CFI with a medical certificate. Additionally, ASF addresses flight instructors each month in AOPA Flight Training magazine.
A new corporate giving campaign was inaugurated and one of its leaders was U.S. Aviation Underwriters, which sponsored a campaign to mail targeted safety information pamphlets to all owners of Cessna 172 and Piper PA–28-series (Cherokees, Warriors, Archers, Challengers, and Arrows) aircraft. These Safety Highlights looked back 17 years to identify where pilots of these aircraft typically had trouble. Not surprisingly, there were few problems with properly maintained aircraft. This program continues in 2001 with the addition of the Cessna 182 and Beechcraft Bonanza.
Despite an overall improvement in the safety record, midair collisions increased slightly last year. To address this ASF produced a major new seminar on collision avoidance that was sponsored by the Department of Defense, the Air Transport Association, and Ryan International, a manufacturer of collision-avoidance equipment. The program was seen by tens of thousands of pilots. A companion Safety Advisor was distributed in print and online to many more. There have already been several high-profile midairs this year, and making this program available is a significant step in educating pilots on their responsibilities to see and avoid.
Runway safety continues as a major concern to the FAA and the industry. ASF distributed more educational materials in 2000 than any other industry group. Initiatives included a seminar on operations at towered airports, a videotape for home use, a Safety Advisor, and Web and magazine articles to remind pilots that ground operations are just as challenging as flight. ASF also asked the FAA to put airport taxi diagrams on AOPA Online so that VFR pilots can get the navigation data they need to handle the occasional trip to an unfamiliar towered airport. It's another industry first. ASF now makes it possible for all pilots - not just AOPA members - to easily obtain taxi diagrams.
Long Beach, which hosted AOPA Expo, is one of the nation's most complex airports, with a high incidence of runway incursions. We set a goal of not having a single incursion during the convention. The Long Beach Airport Authority mailed out free ASF safety videos, ATC went the extra mile, and Expo visitors rose to the occasion - there were no transgressions during the event. It shows how safety can be enhanced through partnership and commitment.
Your generosity and commitment make this safety effort possible. ASF receives the majority of its funding from individual pilots who make tax-deductible contributions. Last year we introduced a series of giving levels, including the Platinum Life Hat in the Ring. Three members joined this elite group, while the ranks of our Life Hat and Hat in the Ring Society also grew. The Life Associate program, started in 1999, added significantly to ASF's endowment with more than 200 enrolling. It provides lifetime membership in AOPA and annual support to ASF. An increasing number of members also made bequests to the foundation to ensure that GA safety education will continue long after their flying days are over.
Status quo is not enough, as 2000 proved. ASF not only expanded its operational activities with more publications and Internet offerings, but also augmented its endowment as well. With continued financial growth, your foundation will be able to commit to more and better programs to make your flying safer. On behalf of the ASF staff, thank you for making general aviation safety a priority.
Bruce Landsberg, Executive Director
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