Gliding is a wonderful sport. It’s not risk free, has high rewards, wonderful friendships and experiences – when all goes well. Every day we indulge in our sport, we strive to combine our collective efforts to ensure safe, fun and exhilarating flying.
No-one sets out to have accidents or make errors. We have faith in our friends and gliding colleagues, understanding risks and making sound decisions, working both individually and in teams to achieve safe operational, airworthiness and competition outcomes.
This takes layers of activity across all departments, at flight line, club, regional and national levels, and in our engagement with other aviators. To drive this we need clear safety cultural focus and priorities, sound safety guidance and policies.
So 2023 has seen a huge level of activity to develop useful SMS manuals, club guidance materials, Emergency Response Plans and policies. The efforts to achieve Part 149 approval have aligned with our recognition of importance of better support to clubs and competition staff, to tackle known risks and make our sport safer.
Safety Bulletin SB 04/23 tinyurl.com/5n82vs8h Safety Policy and Priorities has been issued by Gliding Australia, approved by our CEO, Board Chair and CASA. It discusses the new Safety Policy Commitment that forms part of the new MOSP Part 5 tinyurl.com/2vzrzy2m Safety Management System.
So what, you ask? It gives an overview of what Gliding Australia commits to, to achieve safe gliding activities at all levels. It acknowledges national safety occurrence trends and priorities for addressing the risks that drive those occurrence categories:
Aircraft / Glider Control,
Aircraft / Glider Separation and Collision,
Airframe Occurrences, and
Terrain Collision / Hard Landing Events.
We all need to stand with clubs, members, friends and families of those affected by recent mid-air collisions. We are supporting ATSB investigations and need to carefully manage our mixed operations. SB 03/23 http://tinyurl.com/2x74jmbb Safety considerations in aerodrome environments refers.
A key safety focus in 2023-24 will be “mixing it safely with other airspace users”, involving the gliding community, general aviation, other sporting aviation, as well as the commercial and military aviation sectors. That will become more complicated with expanded RAAF airspace zones, along with changes to airspace near major cities.
This is inextricably linked with situational awareness and vigilance, knowledge of where and how we operate, our knowledge of where and how others operate, plus changes in airspace, air routes, surveillance, and electronic systems.
Other occurrence categories are still important! Risk reduction measures are being pursued at both National and club levels.
A hot El Nino summer appears likely. It’s timely to remember the importance of avoiding dehydration, heat stress and fatigue (SB 01/22), managing proper hydration (SB 02/22), preparing well for summer soaring (SB 08/22), and for those who have not been flying much lately, noting the difference between currency and proficiency in handling multiple high skill tasks at a high performance level, when resuming operations after a long break (SB 01/21). Please take care with ground towing too, (SB 02/23) http://tinyurl.com/2x74jmbb when tired and hot after a long task. Please look after your winch drivers and tug pilots too, with hot days and high density altitude sapping both equipment and human performance.
We will all benefit from open constructive dialogue and feedback on how we can operate more safely. It’s a shared cultural commitment, collective safety with a practical focus.
GLIDING AUSTRALIA BOARD SAFETY POLICY COMMITMENT
The Gliding Federation of Australia Inc (GFA), trading as Gliding Australia, an Approved Self-Administering Aviation Organisation, supports clubs and members in pursuing safe, accessible, and enjoyable sporting aviation with a simple vision
– ONE TEAM – ONE SPORT – ONE GLIDING.
Our purpose is to provide the safest practicable environment for all people to experience the thrill of gliding, provide opportunities and foster excellence in all areas of the sport whilst recognising our responsibility to the wider aviation community. We wish members to achieve lifelong enjoyment through development, inclusion, training, and leadership.
This means doing the right things, to high standards, the right way. The right way means the safest practicable way, in a sporting aviation environment.
Commitment: We are genuinely committed to safety. We do not regard safety as an add-on, rather as an outcome of our collective activities, at national, regional and club levels. We achieve safety through our commitments to resourcing and doing the right things in airworthiness, training, operations, sporting events, administration, member care, all specialist aspects of our sport.
Culture: We wish to cultivate and embed a Positive Safety Culture in gliding activities, encouraging free and open reporting within a Just Culture, with open discussion of safety feedback to members and clubs. We encourage members to seek improvements and support high standards of airmanship, airworthiness, training, airborne and ground operations, personal behaviour, and positive example. We strive to communicate and share our best insights.
Key Factors: Gliding Australia gives highest priority to not harming members, other airspace users and the public, minimising fatal and serious injury accident rates, operating responsibly and safely in a multi-user aviation environment, and cultivating a Positive Safety Culture that encourages open reporting within a Just Culture.
Risk: Risk management principles and processes are intrinsic to specialist panel and club processes, developed over decades through hard-won experience with attention to professionalism in gliding operations and airworthiness. We strive to minimise risks associated with gliding operations to reasonable levels, so we can enjoy freedom to fly in shared airspace, whilst protecting the wellbeing of members, other airspace users and the public. We support using Threat and Error Management in mitigating risks. We share obligations to report and address hazards.
Emergencies: With the best will in the world, things can still go badly wrong. Gliding is an inherently dangerous recreational aviation activity, with obvious risks. We have responsibilities to plan for emergency events, to be best prepared to respond and minimise adverse consequences. We support emergency response planning at national and club levels, including supervisors at operational level. We offer regional and national level support to clubs facing emergencies and serious accidents, particularly in interactions with emergency services, CASA and ATSB, and in supporting their investigations.
Errors: It is vital to acknowledge the inevitability of human errors, that we all sometimes make mistakes. They should be openly admitted, with responses tailored to better prevention, stronger defences against adverse consequences. We must learn from mistakes, report, share insights, talk openly about how we can “do safety better”.
Policies and Processes: We are all bound by rules, regulations, standards, and obligations to operate as responsible, risk aware aviation participants. We seek to simplify their application wherever possible. We provide online access to them, in the clearest manner possible. We expect members to know and understand them, appropriate to their respective roles and responsibilities. If we find rules and processes impede safety outcomes, we must raise those concerns to responsible officers and panels, preferably with proposed remedies. We strive to maintain freedom to fly and equitable access to airspace. Wilful rule violations and workarounds are contrary to Positive, Just Culture. We willingly support reporting processes.
Reporting: This means all members supporting a safety occurrence reporting and analysis system, that monitors trends and actions, provides safety awareness feedback and education to members. This in turn drives improved operational and airworthiness safety systems and processes, informed by occurrence investigations and member feedback. We acknowledge that occurrences may be driven by pilot and member errors, or design, maintenance and technology failures, sometimes exacerbated by external, systemic, organisational, and cultural factors.
Reviews: We support and implement audits and independent safety reviews, ensuring risk mitigation actions are taken. We must continuously monitor and review our safety performance, adjusting our practices and controls. We encourage all members, clubs and Gliding Australia officials to exercise vigilance, counter complacency, support safety awareness, for our mutual benefit.
Priorities: Gliding Australia priorities for safety improvement, noting Australia’s Aviation State Safety Program and SOAR reporting trends, are:
Aircraft / Glider Control, Aircraft / Glider Separation and Collision, Runway Events, Airframe Occurrences, and Terrain Collision / Hard Landing Events.