Commitment to doing the right thing is more than just going through the motions to appear as if you are doing something for the greater good.
We are all part of an industry where everyone knows everyone by a maximum of two degrees of separation it seems. There is good and bad to that equation. When you need to get in contact with a specific person. You can usually accomplish the task with just a few calls. On the flip side, there are some that will remind you of it being “a very small industry,” ominously using that commentary nefariously to strike fear into young pilots to bolster one’s fragile ego or perhaps to squash the competition.
We have all met people like that in business. The latter being something you can see almost daily now on social media, the internet equivalent of “do you know who I am?” Now imagine, if that same “very small industry’ and everyone connected by those few degrees of separation, used that same connection as an effective method to improve safety in our industry and pass on safety information that could save lives?
In Australia, where I grew up, we called it the “bush telegraph.” In small towns, whispered gossip was often faster at letting people know what was going on before the parties concerned even knew what was happening. Imagine our very small industry – one that can sometimes make or break a pilot’s career from on a single phone call passing along safety information that quickly…
What if that made a difference? What if that saved a life? The internet has taught us just how soon that both good and bad, true and false stories can travel now from one end of the globe to the other in mere seconds. Recently a story in Brazil that had an accompanying gut-wrenching video attached made the rounds and continues to pop up now occasionally. I had seen the video months prior in confidence, and it turned my stomach to watch. Thankfully the version released through Brazilian televisions was edited from the version I saw, but the fact remained that it got the industry talking about safety. It sparked conversations about “pressonitis” and how to get out of a dangerous situation.
It bothered me so much that I spoke to many experts in the field about it in my quest to understand what appeared to be blatant and absurd need to push on when moving forward seemed almost inevitable to have a fatal outcome. While we may never know much more than can be seen in that video, what I did notice was that it sparked more conversations about safety that I have seen from a half dozen safety initiative stories we have put out from the USHST in the last few months.
On the flip side, I attended CHC’s Safety and Quality Summit in Fort Worth for the first time this month, and it was refreshing to see over 500 industry professionals with a collective commitment to safety for both their own flying and a commitment from the top down for their organizations. CHC’s Karl Fessenden mentioned in his opening address at the summit that is having a robust safety management system at CHC is not just a forgotten document, but something that is worked on daily by everyone in the company.
Fessenden, like many other CEO’s, has a vested interest in safety for his organization and its passengers around the world, but you can tell when speaking to Fessenden that he genuinely cares about safety. Past the prepared corporate speeches, he shows a passion for the safety of his people – even when not standing addressing five hundred industry professionals. That in itself is not something you can fake, at least not well.
So I guess my monthly chance to speak on what is important to me this month centers around living the safety message and trying to make sure others around you do too. Take the time to get on the USHST website and see what free resources can help your organization and if you run a company. Be like Karl.