The good news: you are part of a flying club! The challenge: standardizing safety for club operations in varied aircraft, potentially at multiple locations. More good news: it isn’t impossible to do. Here are some tips and resources to standardize safety procedures for any club or across multiple club locations.
Start with the basics: make sure the tools for safe operation are easily accessible. Club pilots should be able to readily access the airplane-specific information required for thorough preflight planning. Consider creating a shared internet cloud drive of relevant documents, so that each airplane’s unique information can be downloaded and redownloaded as necessary. In this day and age, a downloadable checklist and weight and balance are pandemic-friendly options to those opposed to sharing checklists with other pilots. That being said, it is also a good idea (if properly cleaned in between flights) to have N-number specific checklists, fuel strainers, and dipsticks.
Since checklists and the like have a tendency to disappear unconsciously into flight bags, consider a “did you close your flight plan”-esque reminder at your hangar to encourage pilots to doublecheck that they aren’t walking away with items intended to stay in the airplane.
Beyond preflight and checklist considerations, it’s key to get the club involved in the discussion, creation, and maintenance of your club’s safety culture—and use their ideas to help create a fun environment that still prioritizes safe operation.
Begin with accountability. Communicate to pilots that safety is an integral part of your club’s culture from the get-go. Lead by example and demonstrate to pilots new to the club that these standards are an expectation from every pilot, whenever they operate.
Create a safety reporting system. This could be as basic as an email, or something more in depth and along the lines of a NASA (ASRS) report. Determine what should be done once a report is received, and what type of actions the club should take with minor and major safety concerns: is a reported issue a small problem, or something that requires grounding an airplane? After a report is received, follow up on it, and determine as a club how to distribute safety information and reports. Communication of issues and successes is key.
And finally, be willing to change the club’s system if you realize it could work better. Brainstorm with the club to create ideas and strategies to help the club’s safety culture form and flourish. These ideas should ensure the culture takes root and is embraced by all—not just some. Develop ideas to ensure consistent and robust reporting and proper recognition of desired behaviors. A safety culture and framework should be able to adapt to a changing club—don’t be afraid to update it as needed!
Use ASI’s Scalable Safety Framework and other downloadable seminars to help your club create a safety culture: www.airsafetyinstitute.org/safetytogo