NEWS | Aug. 23, 2019

US Hosts Experts from 16 Countries at Indo-Pacific Safety Air Forces Exchange

By Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Members from United States Indo-Pacific Command and Pacific Air Forces hosted the annual Indo-Pacific Safety Air Forces Exchange (ISAFE) in Waikiki, Hawaii, August 19-23.

This year, the exchange involved the participation of 16 countries, including the United States, throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The purpose of the ISAFE – which started in 2013 – is to facilitate high-level exchange of aviation safety concepts, processes and best practices to enhance proactive safety and risk management.

“Safety is a culture. Programs alone don’t work. We must find a way to make safety part of everything we do,” said United States Air Force Col. David Shoemaker, Pacific Air Forces chief of staff. “Now, programs are very important. They help focus us on those things that we need to think about as we make safety part of our culture. When we talk about risk, we’re talking about lives, and it’s our job to ensure that each of our nations’ air forces, each of our nations’ defense departments have that culture of safety.”

During the event, there were discussions on various safety topics which included, proactive aviation safety, operations risk assessment and management, military exercise safety planning, Air National Guard flight safety, and aerospace physiology and human factors.

“We cannot predict the next mishap,” said Kevin Tibbs, United States Air Force Safety Center Airman Safety Action Program manager. “But if we inform our Airmen, they have great potential to help mitigate any possible risk.”

Attendees also received briefings from the different countries on topics ranging from best practices and challenges such as bird strikes, aircraft mishaps, accident investigations, trends, fatigue risk and conducting safety surveys in order to identify areas to focus on for future mishap prevention.

One country highlighted, it is even the small things that mitigate safety risks, mentioning they added reflective tape to stairs so they don’t pose as a hazard at night.

“There is a moral imperative to cause no harm to those who serve the nation,” said Royal Australian Air Force Group Capt. Nigel Ward, director of Defence Flights Safety Bureau. “Without aviation safety, there is no capability. We can’t afford to lose those precious people or our equipment because without those things, we don’t have a defence force, we don’t have that capability.”

During the exchange, participants separated into groups for breakout sessions in order to have more in-depth discussions on various matters.

“We are here to enhance our safety and to learn about other countries’ safety measures and to work better with everyone,” said Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Group Capt. Thawach Ruangpetch, director of Academic RTAF.

The ISAFE is all about sharing best ideas and practices so others can bring those ideas back to their work areas and enhance their own safety programs.

“We are finding we are doing things more and more safely,” said Royal Canadian Air Force Col. John Alexander, director of Flight Safety. “Because of that, we aren’t getting the opportunity to learn lessons as much, so by sharing information between all of us, we can learn from one another and hopefully avoid it happing to ourselves.”

Mark Nunn, PACAF deputy director of Safety, outlined the importance and future of ISAFE, “This exchange is an outstanding opportunity for all of us to not only share our knowledge of safety and risk management, but to foster strong partnerships to influence positive cultural change. A culture of proactive safety across the Indo-Pacific region will not only save lives, but greatly enhance the preservation of our operational resources for the future.”