Prioritizing safety on the ground and in the skies
The University Laboratory Safety Committee at The Ohio State University has recognized Assistant Chief Flight Instructor Joe Schwerdtfeger with the “Excellence in Safety” Award for his leadership in establishing Ohio State’s Aviation Safety Action Program. The annual award honors a university faculty or staff member who has made a considerable contribution to improving laboratory safety on campus.
The Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) is a national initiative in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration that aims to reduce the number of pilot incidents and accidents. During spring 2021 Schwerdtfeger developed and launched a custom ASAP program for Ohio State’s Flight Education program.
“I cherish the opportunities to help improve the Flight Education Department,” said Schwerdtfeger. “I see on a regular basis how the program has improved and continues to improve the quality and standards of our flight training program and raises the awareness of proper risk management with our students and instructors.”
The program is intended to replicate safety standards used by major airlines in order to familiarize students with reporting requirements before they begin their professional careers.
According to Schwerdtfeger, a major benefit of the program is that safety improvement occurs without discipline, encouraging further and continued hazard reporting. “Through ASAP participation the instructors and student pilots volunteering information are granted protection from certificate action. This has been instrumental in creating a fair safety conscious culture our instructors and students can thrive in.”
“Simultaneously we gain insight on things that may not be detected any other way. This allows us to make appropriate changes to our procedures and policies before it becomes critical.”
Each semester nearly 300 students participate in labs or coursework at the university airport, utilizing its fleet of 20 aircraft, flight simulators, air traffic control tower, weather station and communications and navigation systems. The Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) recognized the program’s impact during the Ohio State Center for Aviation Studies’ 2021 accreditation renewal.
Ohio State is the third collegiate flight school in the nation – and first in Ohio – to implement the program.