Safety: Eroding Standards and Shifting Norms

Welcome to the Safety Section of the Flying Clubs Newsletter, Club Connector!

Each month we provide resources for flying club safety officers so that they can keep their clubs informed and safe.   We also include links to slides that we use for our own club meetings, so that you always have a topic for your club’s next safety meeting.  Along with the slides, we also provide links to relevant articles, videos, and other media that you may also find useful.

Okay then, let’s get on with this month’s safety topic!

Here is the link to the presentation slides:

November 2023 Safety Topic of the Month: Normalization of Deviance


Studies show that some 80% of all GA accidents occur during non-commercial operations, and around 70% of those are related to some form of pilot (human) error.  This has remained constant for more than a decade, even in the face of huge increases in safety education and available resources.  We must therefore ask…based on the current methods of training and proficiency, have we reached a natural “entitlement” plateau for the number of non-commercial GA accidents…and if so, what must be done to change this situation? 

Learning Points:

  • Normalization of Deviance features the progressive and subtle deviation from standards and limitations, so resulting in new norms. 
  • As deviations progress, checks, balances and system safety factors are eroded or completely lost.
  • Human biases are patterns of reasoning that weigh the value of information according to pre-conceived beliefs.  
  • Pilots must regularly revisit original standards and limits to counter drift.


Risk Management Handbook

Other Safety Resources:

Here is a quick reminder of just some of the resources available to all pilots:


The FAASTeam website is the portal to a vast array of courses, videos, links, and much more.  Remember that WINGS not only encompasses “knowledge” activities, but also flight activities.  Use the various search options to narrow down, to say, flight activities for a basic phase of WINGS and you’ll be able to find a syllabus and often a worksheet for each flight activity.

Highly topical for this month is the FAA’s new Human Factors course.  This ten-module course (with WINGS credits) includes videos, quizzes, workbooks, and tests.  If you are serious about understanding the role of human behaviors in aviation safety education, then please, invest the time to compete this course.

Log into, go to activities-> courses-> all available courses and scroll to find these ALC codes—one per module:  ALC-730, 731, 732, 825, 826, 827, 828, 829, 830.

Here is a link to get you to modules 1 and 2 (ALC-730 and 731):


Don’t forget to regularly visit these FAA safety gems:

Pilot Minute

57 Seconds To Safer Flying

FAA Safety Briefing Magazine

From the Flight Deck


AOPA Air Safety Institute:

AOPA’s own Air Safety Institute, which by the way, is funded by the AOPA Foundation just like the Flying Clubs Initiative, is packed with amazing content, including exceptional videos, podcasts, accident analysis, online courses, recorded webinars and more.  Completing these activities may also earn WINGS credits.  Of particular interest to flying club safety officers is the recently updated Safety to Go section.  There, you can download a selection of topics, each coming with PowerPoint slides and speaker’s notes!

WINGS for Clubs:

If you are interested in using the FAASTeam WINGS program with your flying club, feel free to contact Steve, who is a Lead Representative and WINGSPro, and introduced the program to his club.  More on “WINGS for Clubs” can be found here in Flying Clubs Radio Episode 8 and the May 2020 Question of the Month.

Stephen Bateman
Contributor, You Can Fly Program
Steve retired from AOPA in April 2024, but continues to contribute to You Can Fly programs. Contact Steve at [email protected]

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