Reversing the Trend in USAF Aircraft Mishaps

  • Published
  • By Maj Gen Wendell L. Griffen
  • Air Force Safety Center
Folks, we had an outstanding aviation safety year in FY06 but we are now experiencing a disturbing trend within our aviation community. I am deeply concerned about it, and I believe you should be too. 

As we enter the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2007, already we have destroyed 13 aircraft in mishaps-50% more than all of FY06-and have lost one aircraft in combat. Even more disturbing, we have tragically and irreplaceably lost three outstanding Airmen. Amongst the ruins of 14 aircraft and three fatalities lies a troubling trend. Questionable risk management, poor decision making, and/or inattentive maintenance and flying appear to be contributors in almost every one of these accidents. 

Over the past six decades as an independent service, we have steadily improved our safety programs to the point we now expect such performances as that experienced in FY06 as the norm. Have we forgotten the hard work and vigilance that was required to make us so successful? We cannot afford to become complacent, let our guard down, and lose focus when it comes to safety! 

In that vein, I am seeking your assistance as commanders, supervisors, maintainers and operators to re-focus attention on our aviation safety community! It is no mistake that safety is a commander's program. Discuss this issue in your commander's calls and staff meetings, make safety a regular part of your metrics, and I encourage you to make this a Special Interest Item (SII) discussed in every single mission brief. We must reverse this deadly trend. Every Airman and every aircraft we destroy is one less we have to take to the fight.