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AF celebrates 'best' year in aviation safety

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- In most jobs, breaking or losing a piece of equipment doesn’t cost American taxpayers millions of dollars; however, in the Air Force, operating aviation assets safely not only saves money, time and resources but also the lives of Airmen.

"Our commitment to safety has been part of the Air Force fabric from Day One," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh, III. "Our goal is always to keep getting better at it."

In fiscal year 2014, the Air Force saw a 32 percent reduction in overall Class A aviation mishaps, which are categorized as flight, flight-related, aircraft ground operations and remotely piloted aircraft. According to the Air Force Safety Center, Class A mishaps are classified by loss of life, an injury resulting in permanent or total disability, destruction of an Air Force aircraft, or more than $2 million in property damage or loss.

“Risk management and safe operations are part of our ethos,” said Maj. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, the Air Force chief of safety and the AFSEC commander. “This is truly a good news story ... commander involvement at all levels resulted in (fiscal year) 2014 being the safest aviation year in the history of the Air Force."

There was a 64 percent drop in Class A flight mishaps, from 19 to seven, which contributed to two destroyed aircraft. When compared to fiscal year 2013, with 14 aircraft, it’s an 86 percent decrease. Flight mishaps pertain only to manned aircraft, and the primary factor in those mishaps is human error.

“Flying is a 'by the book' or 'buy the farm' type of business,” Neubauer said. “Our flyers showed great discipline while executing the mission. Aviator attention to detail and proper risk management enabled these historic lows.”

Another factor in the decreased mishap numbers was AFSEC’s facilitation of more than 57,000 Airmen providing safety feedback directly to commanders. AFSEC provided one-on-one interviews with 427 commanders around the world, analyzing and reviewing the feedback.

"I think we can attribute this success to a great proactive safety team, to commanders paying attention across the Air Force, and to aircrews who know how to do the job right," Welsh said.

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