By LT COL ADAM KING, CHIEF OF AMC FLIGHT SAFETY
The National Commission on Military Aviation Safety (NCMAS) was established by Congress in the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to examine and make recommendations with respect to U.S. military aviation mishaps. As part of that effort, NCMAS team members reviewed aviation mishap data across all the services and visited more than 200 aviation-related military and civilian organizations, to include many Total Force Air Mobility Command (AMC) installations and organizations. The final report was submitted to the President and Congress on December 1, 2020. The entire report can be found at https://www.militaryaviationsafety. gov/report/NCMAS_Final_Report.pdf.
The NCMAS report shares critical and surprisingly candid perspectives from the flightline and addresses safety concerns that many aviators and maintainers shared. The NCMAS findings and recommendations focused primarily on talent management and the proficiency of pilots and maintainers, necessary improvements in aviation data, and consistent military aviation funding. NCMAS summed up the goal simply as, “Pilots should fly; maintainers should maintain; data can save lives; and funding should be consistent.”
The NCMAS also stated that they “came away from our visits impressed with the patriotism, dedication, and level of effort throughout the ranks of America’s military aircrews and maintainers. We also came away deeply troubled by the chronic fatigue we saw among these brave service members. The current operations tempo is leading to unsafe practices and driving experienced aviators and maintainers out of the force.” Among the many recommendations of NCMAS are increases in retention bonuses and schooling, as well as proactive safety programs already employed within AMC (such as Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance, Airman Safety Action Program, and the Line Observation Safety Audit). The Secretary of Defense—in coordination with the Service Secretaries—has 120 days from the submittal of the report to provide a response to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. To what extent the NCMAS report will affect USAF and AMC is uncertain, but it is worth the time to read. If you are short on time, read the three-page executive summary!