Last week, unspeakable tragedy arrived in the south of France: 150 souls and a perfectly functional aircraft were taken from us long before their time.
As we all try to wrap our minds around the unbelievable details that have come to light, a simple truth is clear: to board an aircraft is an act of incredible trust. More than any other time in our daily lives, crossing a jetway means entering a world of unavoidable dependence on others.
Taking flight truly is an act of faith: faith in physics and Bernoulli’s principle, faith in clear skies and tail winds, faith in the countless people – from the maintenance line to the control tower to the cockpit – that will bring you safely back to earth.
For the maintenance community, shared responsibility is embodied in half of a million men and women worldwide. Far too often their collective effort goes overlooked; most travelers think only of maintenance when the word is followed by “delay.” The truth is you can’t fly without it.
“Passengers and crew stake their lives on our work,” an inspirational poster reminded me during a repair station visit. “Give them our best.”
Flying is the safest it’s ever been, but clear statistics will always give way to grief. Every time we mourn a communal loss – whether in America, Southeast Asia, the south of France or any corner of the world – we must continue our commitment to keeping the world safe in flight. A means to ease pain is through action.
Commit to supporting the good work of the aviation community:
- Help grow and retain the next generation of aviation professionals by participating in local school and university activities. Go to air shows, schools and county fairs to talk about aviation. Teach and show others that it is vital to lives and livelihoods across the world.
- Actively participate with regulators, not as a protective measure against disaster, but because our future will be built by actively managing the intersection of business and government.
- Attend events, organize meetings, build coalitions and get things done. Nobody can understand the challenges you face like those who are confronting them as well.
Our challenge is not really to take a leap of faith, but to be worthy of the trust placed in us by the many who will board and leap because of us.
Brett Levanto is the Director of Operations at Obadal, Filler, MacLeod and Klein, the Virginia-based law firm that manages both the Aeronautical Repair Station Association and the Aviation Technician Education Council. Visit the global aviation maintenance industry’s information portal at avmro.ARSA.org.