The Top 3 Avemco Safety Forum Questions, Plus 1…

MICHAEL ADAMS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, AVEMCO INSURANCE COMPANY

November 2016

Accident prevention is a critical component of Avemco Insurance Company’s business. As the only direct insurer of general aviation aircraft, we are in the unique position of forging a personal relationship with our customers, while at the same time having a clearer understanding of accident causes, since we also pay the claims.

We periodically share this unique perspective with the pilot community when we are presenting safety-based forums throughout the United States. We are fortunate to speak to attendees at AirVenture, Sun ‘n Fun, Northwest Aviation and other events, and we routinely allow for a question and answer segment.

Interestingly, what we’ve found is that a few questions consistently arise over and over again. So, assuming there are even more pilots out there asking themselves these very same questions, we’ve decided to share three of the most frequently asked Avemco® forum questions — and our answers.

Q: What can I do to become a safer pilot?

A: The best way to become a safer pilot isn’t necessarily through more training; it’s through more effective training. You might be surprised to learn that not counting claims caused by weather to aircraft on the ground, a significant percentage of Avemco’s claim dollars pay for losses caused by pilots poorly executing the four fundamentals1. That’s right … climbs, turns, descents, and straight and level flight.

So one obvious recommendation we have is to master the fundamentals. They aren’t exciting, but they’ll help keep you safe. As we review the hundreds of claim reports Avemco receives every year, we’re convinced that pilots could dramatically decrease the claim count and cost if they would focus more on the fundamentals of flying. When you are at 3,000 feet you can be “off” on executing the four fundamentals and everything may still be OK. However, being “off” on the four fundamentals while close to the ground, as in landing, can have grave consequences and may cost you more than just a little embarrassment.

Q: How can those of us who regularly seek ways to add a greater level of safety to our flying, instill this commitment to the pilot community as a whole?

A: Improving the culture of aviation is the responsibility of each and every one of us. It’s about making safety an expectation of yourself and your fellow pilots. Once this attitude begins to take seed and permeate the culture, it can lead to a tipping point in the same way wearing seatbelts in automobiles has become the expectation instead of the exception.

Since Avemco was founded in 1961, our history reveals that it’s not so much what pilots know or don’t know that determines their risk of accidents — it’s what they care about. Therefore, the solution to changing the culture is to start with ourselves by being more careful and honest with ourselves about what we celebrate and what we denigrate.

It not always an easy task, but it can be done. It’s about setting an example by holding ourselves to a certain standard, and having the courage to hold our fellow pilots to that same high standard, too.

Q: What do you think the FAA should do to address pilot safety?

A: In a phrase: Not much. They can encourage responsible behavior through programs like the FAAST team WINGS initiative, which Avemco supports, but in the end the answer won’t be primarily a regulatory one.

We think that a change in general aviation’s safety record can only come from within. And that means each and every one of us must start today to fly more safely for our own good reasons. Experience tells us that what pilots care about is as important as what they know or don’t know.

Q: The plus 1 - What will the change in the pilot medical requirement do to my insurance?

A: At this time if you are insured with Avemco: nothing. We will do what we’ve always done, monitor losses and analyze our claims. If we see an increase in claims we’ll make adjustments so we can protect your assets in the event you do have an accident and we’ll continue to provide information so you can make good decisions to help avoid having a claim.

The answer is clear
Because we believe an educated pilot is a safer pilot, we’re proud to be able to share our unique perspective with you and the rest of the aviation community. We’re confident that an increase in educational awareness through our forums, our support of the FAA Wings program, and our Safety Rewards Program for Avemco policyholders, will help improve general aviation’s safety culture. And we hope you’ll join us in playing a part as we prepare for even more educational forums in 2017!

1 Claims dollars information is based on Avemco Insurance Company 2008-2014 submitted aviation claims data analysis.

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Mike Adams, Senior Vice President of Underwriting is an instrument- rated private pilot, and a former President of the Oregon Pilots Association. Mike holds a property/casualty insurance license in all 50 states. His more than 30 years of combined experience with general aviation and the aviation insurance industry helps pilots to understand why many of Avemco’s coverage and underwriting decisions are designed to keep them safe.

Avemco® does not provide technical or legal advice, and is not affiliated with companies whose products and services are highlighted, advertised, or discussed in content contained herein. Content is for general information and discussion only, and is not a full analysis of the matters presented. The information provided may not be applicable in all situations, and readers should always seek specific advice from the FAA and/or appropriate technical and legal experts (including the most current applicable guidelines) before taking any action with respect to any matters discussed herein. In addition, columns and articles solely reflect the views of their respective authors, and should also not be regarded as technical or legal advice.