The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has issued a report stating that there is still a proportion of pilots on business aviation flights not performing adequate pre-flight checks. The organization conducted a study of 143,756 flights from January 1, 2013 until December 31, 2015, and found that around 15% began with only a partial flight control check, and 2% began without a full valid check. A valid flight check was defined as a stop-to-stop deflection of all flight controls specified by an aircraft manufacturer’s flight manual.
The report, titled Business Aviation Compliance with Manufacturer-Required Flight Control Checks Before Take-off, was initiated in response to a fatal 2014 Gulfstream G-IV accident at Hanscom Field Airport in Bedford, Massachusetts, where the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the crew did not perform a flight-control check prior to take-off. Had this been done correctly, says the NTSB, it would have been seen that the gust lock was engaged, preventing a successful take-off. The aircraft was destroyed in the incident, and all seven people on board lost their lives.
Ed Bolan, the NBAA’s CEO and president, said, “As perplexing as it is that a highly experienced crew could attempt a take-off with the gust lock engaged, the data also reveals similar challenges across a variety of aircraft and operators. This report should further raise awareness within the business aviation community that complacency and lack of procedural discipline have no place in our profession.”
The NBAA recommends that operators establish flight monitoring programs, as only 1% currently have a system in place. It also recommends participation in data-sharing initiatives, such as the Aviation Safety Information Analysis & Sharing System (ASIAS).