Aviation weather, helicopter ops on NTSB 'Most Wanted' list

January 16, 2014

The National Transportation Safety Board’s 2014 “Most Wanted” list of transportation safety concerns includes “General Aviation: Identify and Communicate Hazardous Weather,” and “Address Unique Characteristics of Helicopter Operations” as two of 10 issues it says should get increased focus in the coming year.

In the 2014 Most Wanted list released Jan. 16, the NTSB states that, “The first line of defense in preventing a GA weather-related accident is the GA pilot. He or she makes the decision of when and where to fly the aircraft. Therefore, appropriate training on how to obtain and use the proper information to address hazardous weather is critical.”

Another “key line of defense,” the NTSB states, “is air traffic controllers who provide weather data to pilots prior to, and during flight.”

AOPA Foundation and Air Safety Institute President Bruce Landsberg said, “We are heartened that the NTSB has chosen to focus on how weather information is used by pilots today. We’ve seen some incredible advances in the weather information that is actually available to pilots in the cockpit and on the ground. Better use of this technology—and a better understanding of this information by pilots—will drive the accident rate down further.”

The board also recommends that the FAA have “infrastructure and protocols in place” that will better convey the pilot reports (pireps) that controllers receive concerning actual weather conditions observed by pilots.

The Most Wanted list notes that the NTSB has reached out to AOPA and other “various operator and user groups,” to examine how pilots can make better use of weather information, and that, “progress has been encouraging.”

“General Aviation Safety,” a topic that was on the 2013 Most Wanted list, has been reworked to focus exclusively on weather. The AOPA Foundation’s Air Safety Institute has considerable online courses and live seminars to help pilot increase their weather knowledge.

Regarding helicopter operations, the Most Wanted list states that, “helicopter operators should develop and implement safety management systems that include sound risk management practices, particularly with regard to inspection and maintenance.”