By By Andrew Parker, managing editor | June 15, 2010
A panel of speakers at the 2010 Safety & Training Summit on June 8 reiterated the importance of an “active safety culture” within an organization and argued that everything in aviation boils down to human factors. The Rotor & Wing-hosted Summit in Denver drew experts together from various sectors of the industry. Chris Baur, president of Hughes Aerospace Corp and a Rotor & Wing columnist, moderated the “Human Factors in Helicopter Operations” at the Summit. “The important thing to remember about the accidents and incidents that do happen, that we can learn from, is that it really is all human factors,” said Immanuel Barshi, senior principal investigator of human-systems integration for NASA.
Tim Rolfe, Bristow European Operations chief training captain for the Sikorsky S92, is involved in the company’s safety management systems (SMS) program. Rolfe explains that working for Bristow, which has “an active safety culture, and a system of processes that allow pilots to identify those hazards, risk-assess those hazards and then put procedures in place—I’m totally sold on the SMS idea. It is entirely necessary to have a very active safety culture at the center of your SMS, it’s not good enough to just have the processes in place.” Rolfe pointed out the contrast between how a pilot who manages to survive an emergency situation is viewed, versus one who does not. “If a pilot actually saves the day—despite the fact that he’s using poorly put together standard operating procedures, a checklist with errors in it, just faces some bad luck or finds himself in a situation where the [weather] forecast has been inaccurate—but he saves the day, how do we describe the pilot?” The pilot “could absolutely be the hero, so there’s a dichotomy,” he said.