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Aircraft safety efforts SOAR

aviation kidnap and ransom risk

By Doug Tibbs, Eastern Regional Manager, Aviation

Aircraft safety is better than ever, according to the National Business Aviation Association’s 2016 (NBAA) survey. In fact, 2016 was the second safest year on record to take a flight, making aviation still by far the safest way to travel.

In the past several years, the focus on aircraft safety has changed from a focus on forensics or investigations into why an accident occurred to an emphasis on pilot training and overall safety culture of the flight operations. The importance of training has escalated for two reasons: the need to recruit new pilots for the expanding private and commercial aircraft business and the fact that today’s aircraft have become more and more sophisticated.

The NBAA’s 2016 survey illustrates that shift in how safety is perceived. The survey showed that 60% of dual-pilot operators reported that pilots go to recurrent training twice annually. Most single-pilot respondents (62%) indicated that they train once annually, with 28% indicating they train twice a year.

Steering safety in a new direction

The issue of aircraft safety doesn’t always have to be about catastrophic failures and deaths, but about mitigating small, negligent-based losses such as aircraft movement and hangar rash errors or even and passenger slip-and-falls that can still tally up to big losses for aviation companies or aircraft owners.

In the early days of aviation, pilots could hop into almost any aircraft and be able to fly the aircraft with little to no training. As the movie Top Gun emphasized, it was “kick the tires and light the fires.” If it was a beautiful day; pilots would just get into any aircraft and figure out the nuts and bolts of the aircraft while in the air. Today, that’s frowned upon in the industry. Pilots today must contend with new technologies both in and outside, from new air traffic control technologies to drones to wearable technology.

More than $24 billion in new general aviation aircraft were delivered in 2016 and the worldwide business aircraft fleet continued to grow. With the continued growth of business and personal aircraft, there’s been a major focus on training pilots in a variety of ways.

Pilots now more than ever do much more than just fly the plane; they need to know how to handle themselves in different situations both on the ground and in the air. For instance, aircraft owners and charter organizations hire and expect a pilot to be personable and friendly, to greet their passengers with a smile and properly escort them to the aircraft, handle their luggage with care and even serve snacks on the trip or have dinner with the passengers. The professional etiquette of a pilot is a differentiator in comparing value in today’s competitive market.



While catastrophic claims have declined, smaller high frequency claims are still a day-to-day reality in the aviation industry and they add up.


For many aircraft owners or charter organizations, the pilots are their frontline salesforce to their passengers. As such, they need to be trained to be more attentive to their passengers so executive presence, etiquette training and also how to potentially manage a crisis, like a kidnapping, are important skills for today’s pilot . (Read more about pilots’ kidnapping risks in “Aviation kidnap and ransom risks gaining altitude.

Precautions and Protocols

According to the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), Safety Management System (SMS) is the formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls. It includes systematic procedures, practices, and policies for the management of safety risk and its becoming standard throughout the industry, for good reason.

While catastrophic claims have declined, smaller high frequency claims are still a day-to-day reality in the aviation industry and they add up. Taking the right precautions and establishing appropriate safety protocols can avoid plenty of preventable losses.

Consider slip and fall risks. On a rainy or cold and icy, passengers leave the terminal in a rush, eager to get inside the plane and off the ground, rushing leads to slip and falls. Establishing a protocol where the pilot or other staff are nearby to help slow down the pace and help passengers on stairways, can prevent a mishap that could turn into a costly claim.

SOAR: a unique, new solution

To help aviation clients heighten safety protocols and enhance risk management plans, XL Catlin recently introduced a new Safety Optimization and Aviation Resource program (SOAR) for select general aviation insurance clients. Aviation clients take their safety records very seriously and this program helps take the leg work out of vetting and partnering with pre-qualified trainers, aviation safety and training experts.

Through partnerships with industry-leading aviation safety and risk management companies, select XL Catlin aviation clients now have access to a comprehensive menu of services and assistance. These include emergency response planning, crew training and survival, executive and person protection, safety management, crisis management, upset recognition and recovery training (URRT) and professional presence and executive etiquette.

What differentiates this program from others in the aviation field is that it includes lots of choices. Clients can pick their partners, focus on areas they want to strengthen or initiate an entirely new management strategy.

Flying is considered one of the safest forms of travel by many. Thanks to companies that take advantage of new technologies and highly-regarded safety and training programs to produce well-trained pilots, we’re aiming to keep it that way. ,.


Doug Tibbs is Eastern Region Manager on XL Catlin’s North America Aviation insurance team. To learn more about XL Catlin’s Safety Optimization and Aviation Resource program (SOAR), contact Doug at doug.tibbs@xlcatlin.como

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