On March 20, John Sheehan, secretary general of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA), spoke at the Directors General of Civil Aviation Conference on a Global Strategy for Aviation Safety. Addressing the international conference in Montreal, Canada, Sheehan emphasized the need for general aviation (GA) pilots to have sufficient, affordable information pertinent to the safety of flight.
"General aviation has become safer over the past decade yet improvements are still needed," said Sheehan. "Weather and airport information are not always available or affordable, and regulatory restrictions and high fees deter pilots in obtaining added experience and proficiency."
Although the principal cause of most aircraft accidents worldwide is pilot error, Sheehan said that there are often contributing causes.
"Insufficient, nonexistent or delayed meteorological reporting, unavailable notam information, and out-of-date aeronautical information references make the pilot's job more difficult under the dynamic conditions that accompany every flight," said Sheehan. "The partnership between pilot and ground-based information systems is of critical importance to flight safety."
Sheehan stated that increased fees work against aviation safety for the private pilot who must pay for these services out of pocket.
"Rising aircraft operating costs and regulatory restrictions serve as a disincentive for pilots to gain additional experience," said Sheehan. "Experience in a broad range of operating environments, proficiency, and recency of experience are proven antidotes to aviation mishaps."
Sheehan noted that many countries, including the majority of the 64 IAOPA affiliates, provide their GA communities with safety seminars, training programs, free publications, and Internet courses to promote ongoing aviation education.
In closing, Sheehan invited the conference to ensure that timely and affordable meteorological, AIP, and notam information are available to GA operators; consider the potential negative effects of added regulation and increased fees on GA safety; accommodate emerging forms of GA activity with appropriate levels of regulation and assistance; and provide safety information and programs for GA operators.
IAOPA represents the interests of AOPA affiliates in 64 countries of the world, comprising more than 470,000 GA and aerial work pilots and aircraft operators. The council was formed in 1962 to provide a voice for GA in world aviation forums. GA encompasses four-fifths of all civil aircraft and two-thirds of all pilots worldwide. For more information, visit www.iaopa.org.
March 21, 2006