Heavier-than-air aviation has existed for just over a century, in which time it has gone from being a daredevil pursuit to one of the safest forms of transport.
This impressive safety record depends on myriad factors, devised over decades, and continually evolving. Flight Safety Australia celebrates its 100th issue in September-October 2014. To mark the occasion we have come up with a list of 100 foundations of aviation safety. It is an eclectic collection of technologies, standards, practices and concepts, but we would be the first to admit that it merely scratches the surface of what makes flying safer than its pioneers would ever have thought possible.
Each week in the lead-up to the release of the 100th issue on 7 September, we’ll post ten foundations. We would love to have your feedback, and ultimately, when we’ve posted the 100, your suggestions for the top 10, or indeed, some you feel have been missed.
We hope you find this list as interesting and thought provoking to read as we did to compile. The way the components interact and intersect to form both a system and a culture is fascinating to examine. Just remember that it is not a countdown, because the foundations are in no particular order.
Finally, no doubt to the surprise of some of you, there is no mention of what many see as the ultimate foundation of aviation safety: airmanship. The reason why is that we couldn’t define it. There are almost more definitions of airmanship than there are licensed pilots. Two of the more elegant are a paraphrase of W.B. Yeats’ ‘to balance all, bring all to mind’ and Macarthur Job’s ‘being aware of the realities of flight’.
Airmanship, although admirable, only covers some of the people who make aviation safe. Its equal is professionalism, which covers a thorough engineer, an idealistic inventor, an unflappable cabin service director, or even a fair-minded but determined safety inspector. These are higher-level qualities and people who displayed them developed many of the specific innovations that have built aviation safety.