Longtime helicopter safety advocate Dave Downey is the recipient of the 2010 Tony LeVier Flight Test Safety Award. Given by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, the award is considered the globe’s top individual recognition for flight test safety. Downey currently works for Bell Helicopter. In 2005, he helped establish the International Helicopter Safety Team, which is aiming to cut the fatal helicopter accident rate 80 percent by 2016.
Bell President & CEO John Garrison said Downey “is a key player in our efforts. This well-deserved award recognizes his long-term commitment to improving aviation safety.” Named for the Lockheed pilot who flew test flights from 1940s through the 1970s including the P-38 Lightning and the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, the LeVier award goes to individuals who, over time, have made a significant contribution to the flight test safety for a specific program or organization, or to the industry at large.
Downey—who will be given the award at the society’s annual symposium in September—was honored for his “relentless support and management skill, [which] has had a significant impact on flight test safety,” the society wrote. Downey’s “lifelong advocacy of flight test safety and commitment to the future distinguish him as a driving force in flight test safety,” noted Thomas Roberts, chairman of the society’s Flight Test Safety Committee. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Downey is a former FAA test pilot and retired U.S. Army Master Aviator and experimental test pilot. (From August 2010 Rotorcraft Report)