Safety Topic of the Month: Human Performance and Safety Culture

January 2024 Safety Topic of the Month: Human Performance and Safety Culture

Every month we provide resources for flying club safety officers to keep their clubs informed and safe.   We also include links to slides that we use for our own 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 PDF of the presentation slides—please use them at your next club meeting:

January 2024 Safety Topic of the Month:  Human Performance and Safety Culture


This month’s Topic of the Month will move beyond the usual academic and nebulous notion of “Human Factors” and will face head-on some hard realities about how we, the pilots and mechanics, are The Human Factor that is standing in the way of heightened performance and the related reduction of accidents.

Based on published data involving decades of study, the presentation will make the bold claim that the majority of general aviation accidents are not accidents at all.  In fact, it will be argued, both the number and classification of future “accidents” can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy, so how can they be called accidental? 

Based on the data, and with some simple linear regression, we postulate that in 2024:

  • The number of non-commercial GA occurrences will be 889
  • From these, there will be 142 fatalities
  • The rate of occurrences, per 100,000 flight hours will be 4.6

With the fatality rate per 100,000 flight hours at 0.7

Do you find it greatly worrying that we claim to predict the number of “accidents” and deaths in 2024?

Why, you should now be asking, isn’t somebody doing something about this? 

Well, if we truly want to do something about this, it is time for us to collectively step up and realize that we, the humans, are the cause for the considerably higher number of incidents occurring in general aviation, compared with other aviation sectors. 

Fortunately, we are also the solution.

With the stepwise improvements in system reliability and aiding technology, we, our human selves, are indeed the factor that is holding us back. 

We’ve known what to do for years, but we are only now at a point where we can be smart enough to do something about it.  We have previously been blinkered by the apparent easier gains of fixing system reliability issues and creating (and then blaming) new technologies, that we missed the big opportunity—our human selves.

It is time to change!

Learning Points:

  • Many general aviation accidents are not accidents at all
  • Based on past decades of data, we can accurately predict the number and classification of “accidents” that will occur in 2024
  • Around 80% of general aviation accidents can be attributed to poor human performance
  • We are both the reason and opportunity to break through the next frontier for safer flying
  • We should stop leaning on the word “accident” and accept that we are, in fact, collectively to blame.  Perhaps then we will be smart enough to do something about it
  • Establishing a “culture of safety” will go a long way to drive this shared responsibility

Other Safety Resources:

Here is a 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 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 complete 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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