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First Comes the Test and Then the Lesson

HSA: Leaving Philly,
On the Road to Manassas

We would like to thank the staff at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) at North Philadelphia Airport (PNE) for hosting our last Safety Stand-Down on May 17.

Campus executive director Stephanie Makhoul and her staff were there to help our attendees get the best possible continuing education experience. Thanks to all of the Philadelphia AIM staff for their support, and we hope to see them again next year!

HSA and its team of volunteers could not do these events without the support of the FAASTeam program managers in the local FSDOs. In the Philadelphia show, we were assisted by Eric Sieracki,
Philadelphia FSDO; Bill VanArtsdalen, Allentown FSDO; Bob Thorson, Teterboro FSDO; and John Sibole, Harrisburg FSDO. The HSA Safety Stand-Down is a great example of how cooperation between industry and the FAA can improve operational safety for small helicopter operations.

Our next Helicopter Safety Stand-Down will be held on July 12 in Manassas, VA, at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance - Washington, D.C. We are grateful for AIM's continued support, and we hope that you can attend, if you are located in the area.

The FAASTeam Program Manager for this area has been Jack Strange, who has announced his retirement. Those of us who have worked with Jack, either for HSA events or at the Rotor Safety Challenge at Heli-Expo, will miss him. Maurice (Maury) Dacey, FAASTeam program manager from the Richmond FSDO, will be supporting this event. Thanks, Maury, for stepping forward to fill the gap!

-- Stan Rose

Introducing Our Social Media Goddess

Hi! I’m Anne Nevel, and I have joined the Helicopter Safety Alliance (HSA) crew as the social media goddess (they let me choose my title! 😉).

I have been an association professional for 13 years, providing educational programs for different industries, with helicopter aviation being one of my favorite groups to work with. I am a Certified Association Executive (CAE), and I know the value in providing a space for like-minded individuals to come together for many reasons, including the most important: COMMUNITY. 

I am joining HSA – not just because they let me have a cool title – but because I believe in its mission. In my stint in aviation, I saw a clear need for more safety education for helicopter pilots, maintenance technicians, and operators. And in small helicopter operations, it's not always easy to get out and travel to big events. However, your ability to maintain safe operations should not be limited as a result. That’s why HSA was created … and I want to be a part of that!

Soon you will see me, individually and on behalf of HSA, sharing events and articles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Please join in the conversation, and share the postings with your friends and colleagues. HSA and the safety resources it provides are important resources for our community, and together, we are STRONGER!

I hope to meet some of you at the Manassas Safety Stand-Down on July 12.

-- Anne Nevel
In addition to spending a day talking about safety in small helicopter operations, these attendees at the Philadelphia Helicopter Safety Stand-Down took home some door prizes, helicopter models donated by Airbus. Other door prizes included the chance to be entered into a drawing for an Airbus training course, including one for pilots and one for maintenance techs.
Thank you, Airbus, for your support for small helicopter operations!

July 12: Manassas Helicopter Safety Stand-Down
Register Online or Tell a Friend!

1* = One A** to Risk
Back in the early 90s, I got the most dangerous call you can get in helicopter air ambulance missions.

I was called to respond to an Officer Down report. That gets everyone involved overexcited and superadrenalized because the patient is someone inside the "blue line," one of our own, whether you are a peace officer or not. The normal rule book generally goes out the window.

The crew and I rapidly saddled up and departed to the scene, just a few miles away. We arrived and checked in with the scene command. They told us it was a barricaded suspect situation and one officer had been shot. They wanted us to make the pickup in a park across the street from the scene.

So we set up for the approach, and as soon as we started down, everybody who had a radio or signaling device started screaming for us to wave off. One officer even stood up to give a visible wave-off signal.

We climbed back up, and I inquired as to why they didn't want us to land. A little embarrassed, they admitted they had left an element out of the brief.

"What was that?" I asked.

"We're not sure sure he's out of ammunition."

We climbed back up out of small-arms range to wait. In a few minutes, they declared the scene was safe. We landed and picked up the patient and then took him back to the hospital, where he was treated and made a good recovery.

I made a mental note about making sure the scene is safe, especially in high-stress situations, and didn't think much more about it until two officers from the township showed up at our office a week or so later. One of them had some flashcards to show me, something that he said he used in police training.

The lieutenant asked me, "Do you know what this is?" as he held out a card with this on it: 1

"Sure," I said, "it's a 1."

He showed me the next card. It had this on it: *

"What's this?" asked the lieutenant.

"A star?" was my guess, but the cop corrected me. "It's an asterisk."

Then he asked me what I thought those two symbols meant together: 1*. He told me to sound it out slowly.

"One Asterisk?" I asked.

"Pretty close," said the lieutenant. "Try and visualize it this way: 1* = One A** to Risk."

HIs message for me was that, whether you are on the job, on the way to the job, or off the job, you are responsible for your own safety because you really only have 1*.

So I wouldn't forget, they gave me a 1* coffee mug.  It's been almost 30 years, and I still remember 1* every day. Maybe that's one reason I'm still here, 30 years later.

-- J. Heffernan
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Monthly Safety Briefing: Tribal Knowledge

In general aviation, we live in a world of regulations, policies, and procedures. Whether we fix or fly for a Part 135 or Part 91 operator, we have detailed guidance from the FAA, manufacturers, and our bosses about what to do, and when and how to do it.

But even with all that helpful (!) advice about compliance, there are still issues that come up in a day's work that don't always fit into the black-and-white of the FARs and SOPs. And that's when we rely on tribal knowledge.
In this month’s safety meeting, we'll look at tribal knowledge, how it works, and what are some of the issues that can occur when working with tribal knowledge.

What Is Tribal Knowledge? Tribal knowledge is the information about company processes and procedures possessed by employees that is NOT written down. It is often senior personnel who hold much of the tribal knowledge in our companies -- they have the experience to notice when things are not quite right or to dig a little deeper into a problem.

Sharing this knowledge is important. We may be able to help our colleagues complete their work in a more efficient manner. Tribal knowledge can also expose previously unseen gaps or problems in already-existing processes or procedures.

Learn more:

Issues with Tribal Information. Because it is unwritten, tribal knowledge is passed from employee to employee. Communicated this way, important information may:
  • Be inconsistently applied (until the message reaches all employees, some will be doing things the old way)
  • Become incorrect or garbled (ever play the "telephone" game?)
  • Be dismissed ("if it were really important, they'd have written it down")
  • Be lost (the employees holding the information leave the company or forget to share the information)
  • Be omitted from SOPs and policies (if something is that important, shouldn't it be in the SOPs?)
  • Lead to PiNC (the unintended take-away message can be that we don't have to always follow SOPs).
Learn more:

Tribal Knowledge: Good or Bad? The issue with tribal knowledge isn't that it's bad. Having employees discuss and share ideas about workplace issues is a good sign that they are engaged in their work and not complacent. In fact, tribal knowledge often contains brand-new, never-documented information that is critical to your organization's safety and success.

Learn more:

So tribal knowledge has value. The real issue is this: what is your organization or team doing to capture, document, and disseminate the tribal knowledge that you are generating every day?

Learn more:

You can finish this safety meeting by talking about the importance of:
  • Following policies and procedures
  • Continuing your peer-to-peer dialogue
  • Remembering to share your knowledge
  • Creating or maintaining processes for documenting tribal knowledge when possible, appropriate, and vetted by management.
-- Stan Rose
Helicopter Safety Stand-Downs are held in conjunction with the FAASTeam and are eligible for WINGS and AMT credits!

Learn more at
The Helicopter Safety Alliance provides FREE safety resources for pilots, maintenance technicians, and managers of small helicopter operations. Learn more at
Copyright © 2019 Helicopter Safety Alliance. All rights reserved.

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