Flight Experts to Corral Safety in Cowtown

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International experts in aircraft accident investigation will convene in 2005 in Fort Worth, Texas, to discuss flight safety. Technological advances in flight safety and flight accident investigation will be presented.

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They will come from as far away as the land “down under”, representing four continents. They are detailed folks, familiar with herding minuscule clues amidst mud, muck, and, often, macroscale misery. Gathering together from more than 30 countries, flight experts of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) will head to Fort Worth, Texas, “Cowtown”, this September 12 -16 to discuss the latest technical advances in flight accident investigation and exchange information about flight safety.

Aircraft accident investigators perform a painstaking job, outposts of mainstream aerospace employees. They work in dust, downbursts, and debris, or in front of computers and in labs. By the end of the trail, they will have rustled through thousands of small innocuous pieces of rubble, sheriffs of every detail. Their job is more than a duty—they consider it a moral obligation to the aeronautical community and the public: Make sense of aircraft accidents so that mistakes are not repeated.

The roundup of worldwide investigators fulfills a primary mission of ISASI, to promote aviation safety by improving the accident investigation process. This year’s seminar will highlight relevant topics using the theme “Investigating New Frontiers in Safety” (http://www.ISASI2005.com).

Keynote speaker for the meeting is John Goglia, former board member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the first member of the board to hold an FAA aircraft mechanic certificate. During his tenure, Goglia raised awareness of the increasing significance that aircraft maintenance plays in aviation accidents.

Speakers lined up for the meeting are experts in accident investigation, and many of them hold flight safety positions on government regulatory boards. Main topics slated for presentation include a review of recent investigations, accident data analysis, sharing industry information, managing post-accident stress, and crewmember perspectives of accidents.

According to Curt Lewis, president of the DFW ISASI chapter and seminar chair, air safety investigators train in proper investigation procedures, biohazards, interview and photography techniques, crash site survey, human factors, and engine mechanics—along with a slew of other specialized areas.

“We are a diverse organization, but our members share one goal. We all believe that air safety is practicable and sustainable. With continuing technological advances and training, we believe we can consistently achieve safer air travel,” Lewis said.

That claim is backed by statistics compiled from international regulatory transportation safety boards, insurance companies, and regional news media, which show a consistent decrease in fatal passenger flight accidents in the last decade. From a passenger’s standpoint, 2004 was the safest year in aviation since World War II.

And so it seems fitting that these probing pioneers of aircraft accident investigations will head to Fort Worth, a city whose roots are emblazoned in frontier heritage.

ISASI, headquartered in Sterling, VA, was founded in 1964 with 140 charter members. Today, ISASI includes seven international societies, 12 U.S. chapters, 10 Committees, and nine Working Groups. Members represent more than 64 countries, including government safety boards, airlines, and crewmember organizations. http://ISASI.org

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