JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The National Commission on Military Aviation Safety visited the 15th and 154th wings here on Nov. 1, 2019, to speak with leaders as well as Airmen who make the mission happen. The commission is a team of professionals that have joined forces to help assess, identify, and solve issues surrounding military aviation.
Hickam Airfield was one stop of many and is a critical location due to some of the vital operations the installation is a part of.
“Hickam Field is a great location for the commission because we’re a joint base,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Hood, 15th Wing Chief of Safety. “We also have a joint airfield with the international airport, Total Force Integration with the Hawaii International Guard, and we have a very diverse mission set.”
The base is a major center for disaster relief operations across the Indo-Pacific, is home to the F-22 fighter squadron, and also provides airlift support to Pacific Air Forces commanders. According to the 15th Wing Operation Support Squadron, approximately 20,000 aircraft arrivals and departures occur at Hickam’s joint airfield per year. With the amount of potential air time, aviation safety is a major concern.
“I’m thankful that I get to continue to contribute and take the knowledge we’ve learned, and then help our nation continue to operate effectively,” said retired Gen., Raymond E. Johns, NCMAS Commissioner. “We want our service members to feel safe and secure in what they’re doing.”
The commissioner’s goal is to survey past problems and then make recommendations on how the military can improve mission readiness. The commission has made over 70 stops to different sites across the Department of Defense, surveying Aircraft mishaps from 2013 to 2018, and listening to concerns from service members. These findings will be presented to the President, Congress and Department of Defense in 2020.
“You have the Guard and the active duty here on Hickam, plus a series of aircraft,” said Johns. “You want to look at all aspects of aviation safety. You have to assess the resources, the people, the equipment, the training, and then the mission. It all has to come together in harmony.”
Change won’t happen overnight, but the commissioners hope to provide leaders with information that can better their work environments for the long-run, so mishaps can be diminished overall.
“Right now we’re collecting all these pieces in the hopes that the whole system gets better,” Johns said. “We hope to allow everyone to feel more appreciated and valued, and we never want them to feel like they have to compromise their safety.”
Anyone can send the NCMAS concerns relating to aviation safety by visiting www.militaryaviationsafety.gov. Emails and phone calls are welcomed and completely anonymous when submitted.