As the aviation industry endeavored to make the slow grind back to normal against significant headwinds such as continuing disruptions due to the virus, labor shortages and other extraordinary challenges, 2021 became a year characterized by perseverance, innovation and a need to work together.
Out of the many excellent safety events of 2021 (some of which we were grateful to attend once again in person) including the NBAA Single Pilot Safety Standdown and other incredible presentations at NBAA, our own 2021 UPRT Safety Summit, and more, one presentation that stood out from the rest was Tony Kern’s presentation at the Bombardier Safety Standdown titled “The Armored Knight”.
A Valiant Knight in the Realm of Aviation
Tony Kern has been a well known champion of safety in aviation for decades. It’s no surprise that he presented a powerful concept perfectly in tune with where we are at presently in the context of the past and future of aviation.
Dressed for the part, Tony warned against falling into the destructive patterns of divisiveness and manipulation that characterize society today, and instead admonished all to take on the approach of a Knight in relation to our roles in aviation. Likening the knight’s armor to safety systems with the knight himself being ultimately responsible for adhering to an unfaltering code, he admonished us to adopt an integrated approach to safety, blending personal integrity with supporting systems, to fight daily towards becoming better each day.
“The drivers of error—as well as high performance—come from inside the individual, within the system that supports them, and the external environment we live and operate in,” he said. This message of integrating individual accountability and striving for excellence with powerful systems for advancing safety is the winning combination needed to mitigate risk and enjoy not only safe flight operations, but also an effective and inspiring safety culture and a fulfilling work environment for any flight organization.
Poignant Application to UPRT
These concepts presented by Dr. Kern are woven into the chain mail fabric of Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) in many ways. Here are three key applications:
- Safety Begins with the Individual Pilot: Every pilot must be armed with the tools necessary to confidently prevent Loss of Control In-flight (LOC-I), aviation’s number one cause of fatalities, or overcome an upset if necessary.
- Well-trained Pilots Thrive Within Effective Systems: Effective UPRT is built on the sturdy framework of the All-Attitude Upset Recovery Strategy which empowers pilots to organize their thoughts, inputs and responses to effectively overcome an adverse in-flight situation or undesired aircraft state. Additionally, including UPRT in a Safety Management System (SMS) is critical to achieve the highest levels of organizational safety.
- UPRT Encourages Excellence: The advanced piloting skills developed by UPRT, which are not taught in regular pilot licensing training —and are often in fact counterintuitive —build both confidence and ability even for seasoned pilots. UPRT provides an unparalleled opportunity to efficiently build advanced skills while simultaneously refining overall manual handling proficiency and airmanship.
One Team – One Fight
Perhaps the best takeaway from Tony’s presentation is that we are all in this together. He pointed out “This is one team, and it’s one fight.” As the industry continues its forward momentum during tumultuous times, our efforts to advance safety and ensure every pilot and every passenger arrives safely will be magnified to the extent that we all keep open minds and open hearts as we push forward together. Reflecting on the great contributions of Tony and the many others who have been working to build a bright future for aviation, it’s easy to feel gratitude and unity in our cause.