Safety Standdown 2014 Two Words: Pay Attention
10.20.14 · Ashley Bowen Cook
Like many apparently simple things, paying attention can be a lot harder than it seems – especially these days.
And the strategies to stay focused are many and varied, as demonstrated during the recent Bombardier Safety Standdown in Wichita, Kansas. At that seminar, 32 separate sessions explored different aspects of distraction and how to minimize the resulting threats to safety. The annual standdown kicks off a full year of ongoing safety emphasis and education. The seminar comes and goes, but the educational work and the dedication to safety never stops. This year’s theme: Attention Control Techniques.
For 18 years now, Bombardier has been bringing safety-minded aviation professionals together to focus on safety. Each year, the company’s dedicated standdown team and advisory council choose the most compelling current issues affecting aviation safety, then book some of the foremost experts to explore those issues in depth.
Action on Distraction
This year, the talk in safety circles has centered on the increasing distractions in modern life – and how that can affect the safe operation of aircraft. Mobile devices, in particular, have become a major source of distraction as people find themselves increasingly compelled to text, email, search and follow social media.
I attended several sessions and can say that it’s never hard to pay attention at Bombardier Safety Standdown. On the contrary, it’s energizing to be among so many dedicated experts as well as hundreds of aviation professionals whose foremost concern is greater safety – not just for their own operations, but for the industry as a whole.
Although the topics vary from year to year, one Safety Standdown principle remains constant: the idea that participants should pay it forward. The mantra says it all: Learn, Apply, Share. Never stop learning about new topics and new safety strategies. Find ways to apply those strategies to your own operation. Then work to spread the word to your aviation colleagues. At the same time, the Safety Standdown team works throughout the year to keep the conversation fresh and ongoing through a dedicated website and social media.
A High-Profile Guest
That maxim got a big boost at the annual wrap-up banquet from actor and pilot John Travolta. He flew his Bombardier Challenger 601 into Wichita from a movie shoot in Canada just to participate in the evening. He shared his deep and long-lasting love for aviation, starting in boyhood with a paper airline ticket stub he cherished as though it were his own magic carpet. He also talked about his commitment to safety and said he deeply believes in and follows the principles of Learn, Apply, Share. Words to live by.
Speaking of sharing, the other big news at the 2014 event is a new mentorship program that pairs experienced, safety-minded professionals with young, aspiring aviators. These professionals make a serious commitment to helping their young charges understand the kind of dedication it takes to keep safety top-of-mind, always pushing to understand more and to constantly improve safety protocols.
For more information, go to www.safetystandown.com and click on the Mentorship tab.
Bombardier sponsors Safety Standdown for the sole purpose of promoting safety. It’s open to operators of all types of aircraft. And it’s a non-marketing event that allows no commercial, um, distractions.
There’s no way to know just how much difference the seminar makes in the overall safety of this industry we all love. All I know is I wouldn’t want to fly in a world without it.
This column ran in the October 22 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.