AIAA 16 Feb 2016Photo left to right: Dan Lane, Kit Darby, Steve Justice, Mario Evans, Mike Mullaney

Our February dinner meeting, “Aiming for Perfection — Improving Aviation Safety in a Changing World,” was held at Cosmopolitan Restaurant on Tuesday February 16th. Local AIAA member Steve Justice, Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace, served as moderator for a panel discussion on what turned out to be a timely issue. According to Flight Global magazine for the year of 2015, “Air transport operations resulted in a global fatal accident rate of just one in 5 million flights last year, the lowest figure on record.” Yet ongoing challenges still exist.

Our first panelist was Mr. Kit Darby, President of Aviation Consulting, LLC, and a professional airline pilot. Mr. Darby spoke about the upcoming shortage of airline pilots. Properly-trained pilots are critical to aviation safety. In recent years, we’ve seen commercial accidents caused by pilots relying too heavily on automation, or pilots who were unprepared for an emergency situation, such as a stall. The upcoming pilot shortage could exacerbate the issue.

Second to speak was Dan Lane, Chief Inspector and Nondestructive Testing Department Manager for Epps Aviation. Mr. Lane reminded us that regular maintenance is important, but that inspections after maintenance are also important. Be sure you follow your pre-flight checklist completely and be sure to give your aircraft a thorough inspection, especially after maintenance.

Mario Evans, Director of Peachtree DeKalb Airport spoke third. Mr. Evans talked about the challenges of managing an airport that is a hub of general aviation activity. He reminded us that aviation activity often follows the arc of the economy, meaning more operations in good times and fewer during recessions or contractions.

Lastly, Mike Mullaney, FAA Safety Team Program Director, told us how the FAA works to educate aviators about safety. This includes standards for professional pilots and general aviators. Of course, the FAA is working hard to educate operators of unmanned aerial systems about the responsibilities of flying in shared airspace.

After the general presentations, members of AIAA’s Atlanta chapter asked follow-up questions.