Every aviation professional learned early in their careers that if they plan to be in aviation, they have no choice to be a safety professional, too. Like so many others, every year at this time I keep a bag packed for a series of Fall events that start as dates on a calendar—mere safety symposiums—but almost always along the way attending these events result in discoveries I could never have made if I’d stayed at home. It’s hard to put into words exactly how this happens each year, but somehow I manage to tease more and more meaning out of the word, Safety, simply by being around other aviation professionals whose interests in improving outcomes is a kind of informal professional bond.
All through our careers, virtually every day, we are continuously invoking Safety in almost everything related to our profession. Every week, journals, publications, and electronic messages of every kind related to Safety pile up and beg for our attention. In fact, the very processes and procedures that I use to execute my flying job have Safety woven throughout them so thoroughly that virtually every outcome I experience in the cockpit can be identified as “safe” so long as I’ve followed policy, standard procedures, and accepted practice. Rarely do I need to stop and consider Safety for what it is, individually and disconnected from what I consider to be those things that I do as a pilot as a matter of mere routine.
But every year—whether encouraged by regulation or inspired by individual choice—aviation professionals set the brake on routine operations to devote several days and sometimes weeks to discuss Safety, and how they can become better aviation professionals as a result. Surely, at this year’s events, I will hear the latest talks surrounding industry trends. But if I all I do is listen and absorb the latest discussion or analysis without weighing my own actions to improve outcomes that I have influence over, I may as well stay home and organize the pile of journals that have been collecting on my desk.
Safetyis derived from the Latin word for safe, salvus; it’s changed over the millennia to salvitas (medieval Latin) to sauvete (Old French) and seems to have been imported to Old English, after the Norman invasion at Hastings to the word we know today as safety, all along keeping its central meaning. Safety—according to Webster—is a noun whose definition is:
the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury, or loss
According to organizations that track language trends, the usage of the word safety has never been more prevalent than it is today. That’s no surprise, given that the science of Safety has impacted so much of modern life, easing hurt, injury, and loss dramatically along the way. Yet at this time of year, I set out, along with thousands of others, to do what I can to proliferate safe outcomes even further.
Personally, for 2015 into 2016, I’m committing myself to keeping my eyes and ears tuned to those actions and habits that I can adopt or alter that support the most basic aspects of safety—preventing hurt, injury, or loss. I don’t know exactly what I will find in my travels to a few of the many places where Safety is talked about this year. At this point, all that I know for sure is that I’m looking forward to being with other safety pilgrims, not just to reinforce the knowledge of aviation safety that I’ve been developing for decades, but to seek out the details of what I can do to improve that knowledge, and build even more meaningful and lasting habits to defend against hurt, injury, and loss.
Think about it.
Until our next post, fly safe, and always, fly first