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From the Desk of the Safety Office


Michael May, Standards Officer WVFC

2017 Safety Office Update 

At this time last year, I wrote about the 2016 Safety Office goals. The higher level objective was to improve our membership experience while enhancing safety, and our goals included updating our Member Regulations Quiz and checkout forms, our Phase Check Program, and continuing to work to enhance the club safety culture. A year later, I’m pleased to report that we made significant progress in these areas.

The Member Regulations were rolled out on Jan 1 of this year and include some significant updates. Among the changes were several things that came as a direct result of member feedback (see the paragraph on our Safety Culture below), and others that we hope will clarify existing best practices that are already in use at the club. For anyone interested in reviewing it, you can locate it in the Member Docs section of the club website.

Our Phase Check program has had two significant changes to it. In collaboration with our CFI’s, we’ve eliminated several phase checks that everyone agreed were unnecessary for club safety. Second, we now will assign up to three Phase Check CFI’s instead of one when a Phase Check is required. The member and primary CFI are free to choose any of the three names we provide based on price, availability, or personal preference. This should help reduce the training disruption that can occur when the assigned Phase Check CFI doesn’t have a schedule that’s compatible with the member, and it gives the member the ability to select their Phase Check CFI from a list rather than have one assigned to them.

Finally, the club continues to enjoy a strong safety culture. While we suffered one landing incident that resulted in an insurance claim (thankfully there were no injuries), this was the only blemish on an otherwise stellar year safety-wise. In years prior we had several incidents that concerned us but either didn’t reach the level of an insurance claim or resulted in little or no aircraft damage. For example, in 2014 we had three incidents in which a propeller struck a cone while taxiing. In two of these incidents the airplane was then flown after the respective pilots checked for visible damage and found none. These prop-strikes resulted in one engine overhaul, two propeller overhauls, and two engine teardowns once the club became aware of them. When the Safety Office investigated these we discovered that this is a subject that many of our members have never received guidance on. The short version of this guidance is to never, ever fly an airplane if you suspect anything has struck the propeller, even if there is no visible damage (Lycoming and Continental both have Service Bulletins that describe in detail the inspection process following a prop-strike that can be easily found online for anyone interested in learning more about it). Since this is a safety-critical issue, we added it to our Member Regulations in the revision that we just completed. Getting back to the safety record in 2016, we had a very quiet year, and we continued to see increasing use of our flight feedback system to bring safety issues to our attention.

Looking ahead to 2017, we intend to continue our work on all three goals. The Member Regulations will need another update this year to account for the pending changes to 3rd Class medical reform, and our goal is to update the Regulations at least once a year looking farther down the road. Our checkout forms will continue to be updated this year, and we will continue to strive to maintain our safety culture. In addition to these goals, we intend to focus on improving the member experience at the club by adding a few more CFI’s to our ranks to help meet increasing demand. I look forward to reporting our progress to you again this time next year, and in the meantime we welcome your comments and feedback.