Friday, January 11, 2013

Committed to safety, mishap prevention

by Laura Mowry
412th Test Wing Public Affairs

1/10/2013 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Before returning to flight operations, Team Edwards welcomed the new year with the annual Back in the Saddle briefing Jan. 7, focusing on safety, teamwork and mishap prevention.

For nearly 20 years, Back in the Saddle has helped the Edwards community shift their focus back to safely and effectively accomplishing the mission after spending time with friends and families during the holiday season.

"We at Edwards do not do normal operations. We conduct flight test and what we do is actually very dangerous. If you let go for just a few moments you can end up killing somebody," said Bill Koukourikos, 412th Test Wing Flight Safety Office deputy chief. "Back in the Saddle gets everyone back into that mode of thinking, that what we're doing is dangerous and we better pay attention."

Unlike in the operational world, the Edwards community faces unique challenges as they settle back into the flight test mission because the unconventional nature of flight test lacks fixed rhythm to help personnel re-acclimate after holiday downtime.

"It's not like a normal Air Force base where you come back from vacation and know what's going to happen and you basically go back into your normal rhythm. That's why everyone gets the Back in the Saddle brief and there are also safety briefings going on within the units. It gets people thinking about flight test, flight operations and risks so that when they hit the road running, they're not going into it cold," said Koukourikos.

Back in the Saddle combines mishap reviews with informational briefings to get useful information out to the workforce.

The Back in the Saddle briefing also helps mitigate risks associated with what is known as the "January Effect," during which there is an Air Force-wide increase in the frequency of mishaps.

"The Air Force sees a spike in mishaps throughout the month of January and it is our job to prevent that from happening," said Koukourikos. "I'm proud to say that we here at Edwards don't have a spike in January."

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