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20, 2012 - Forum: General Aviation Safety - Climbing to the Next Level, Washington, DC - Chairman's Closing Remarks
Deborah A. P. Hersman
20, 2012 - Forum: General Aviation Safety - Climbing to the Next Level, Washington, DC - Chairman's Closing Remarks

On behalf of my fellow Board members, thank you to all who participated over the past two days. We appreciate the time and effort you took to provide us with informative and thought-provoking presentations. And, thank you, to Jill Demko and the rest of the forum planning team, including technical panel leads Cathy Gagne, Jeff Marcus, Darrin Broadwater and Andy Olvis.

One thing that everyone seemed to agree on was the connection between good flight instruction and safe piloting.

As our resident CFI, we have followed his lead, and under Member Weener's leadership, many important issues have been highlighted. Thank you, Member Weener, for your advocacy efforts and outreach over the last year and for your coordination with our staff on this forum.

Earlier today, I spoke with John and Martha King. They told me that the forum was valuable because it gives organizations and individuals the authority to change. I think they identified one of the immediate benefits of the forum, because I know everyone here has participated in or heard hallway conversations or received e-mails that confirm that sentiment.

Here are three messages I've heard over the last two days: One, the GA community is not homogenous. Two, we have a lot of data about fatal accidents, but better data will enable better decisions. And, three, no matter what the technology, the innovation or the information, it is up to the general aviation community - pilots, instructors, mechanics and others to make good use of it.

It is widely accepted that at least 80 percent of accidents have human factors causes, so even with better weather information, better envelope protection, and better handheld technology - we must continue to identify ways to ensure that the pilot has the right information, the right stick and rudder skills and makes the right decisions.

Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

It is up to the general aviation community to instill those habits and foster a culture of safety that begins with the first flight lesson and continues through the last (safe) landing. It must be a culture that encourages constant vigilance and continued learning and training. And, it is a culture and message that will be spread through social media as well as at a picnic table during lunch at a rural airstrip.

I hope this forum was a big step forward toward that culture of safety.

We stand adjourned.