A U.S. Army aircrew position a CH-47 Chinook helicopter as soldiers prepare for sling-load operations at Fort Campbell. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army
The U.S. 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, if enacted, will fully fund U.S. Army and U.S. Navy rotorcraft procurement for fiscal year 2019 starting Oct. 1. Also in the bill includes a Democrat-proposed Independent National Commission on Military Aviation Safety tasked with reviewing military aviation mishaps for the past five years, compare the accident rate to historic averages, attempt to find causes for the accidents and make recommendations on how to improve aviation safety.
Representatives from each U.S. military service explained during a Congressional hearing last week how this commission would affect their service.
The U.S. Air Force's Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland said such a commission would support the service's own findings on the Air Force being too small for its mission set.
"I think it would highlight that we need the more manpower and to grow to accomplish a national defense strategy to provide that time to train," he said.
The U.S. Marine Corps' Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder agreed, adding that he thinks a commission would find efficiencies in pilot production and training as well as aircraft maintenance.
From the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Maj. Gen. William Gayler said the commission needs to be a focus on determining the casual factors that affect risk such as manning, equipping and training.
"But we're certainly encouraged by any opportunity to help better protect our soldiers," he added."
Rear Adm. Roy Kelley of the U.S. Naval Air Force Atlantic spoke on how the advent of the Naval Aviation Training Operations Standardizations helped the branch become more predictive on how accidents occur. By knowing how accidents occur, he said, the branch then installed angled flight decks to prevent mishaps. Kelley said a commission that helps each branch become more predictive would make a big difference in preventing accidents in the future.