NBAA Report: Flight Crews Skip Checks


A study conducted by NBAA has found that 15 percent of flights in business jets begin without a complete flight-control check, the association reported last week. The NTSB suggested a need for the study after its investigation of a fatal 2014 accident involving a Gulfstream G-IV at Hanscom Field, in Bedford, Mass. The safety board found the crew had not performed a flight-control check before takeoff, and as a result, they had no way of knowing the aircraft’s gust lock was engaged. The jet ran off the runway and caught fire, killing all seven on board. The NTSB recommended that NBAA lead an industry-wide, collaborative study to measure the extent of non-compliance with before-takeoff flight checks.

The NBAA study analyzes data from 143,756 business aviation flights between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2015. The analysis found that an average of 15 percent of those flights began with a partial flight control check, and 2 percent began with no check at all. The report defined a valid flight check as the stop-to-stop deflection of all flight controls specified by a manufacturer’s aircraft flight manual. “As perplexing as it is that a highly experienced crew could attempt a takeoff with the gust lock engaged, the data also reveals similar challenges across a variety of aircraft and operators,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “This report should further raise awareness within the business aviation community that complacency and lack of procedural discipline have no place in our profession.”

Among the report’s recommendations, NBAA urged operators to establish flight-data monitoring programs (only 1 percent of operators currently have such programs), and to participate in a formal data-sharing program similar to the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing System, which focuses on the root causes of accidents in an effort to prevent their recurrence. The study also urges manufacturers to provide clearer requirements for pre-departure flight-control checks. The complete report is posted on the NBAA website.