Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

MnDOT Aeronautics requests data for TZD program

AvRep Rick Braunig

I don’t know how many people are still flying that remember seeing Ken Patz and Verdon Kleimenhagen doing safety seminars throughout Minnesota. Probably more of you remember Mark Schreier, Steve Szymanski, Marlan Perhus and me making the circuit, but even that is more years back then I care to talk about. The point is we have a long history of trying to affect the aviation accident rate.

We have data that suggests when we do safety seminars, we are preaching to the choir. People who attend have the right attitude about safety. They are not the ones having accidents. Now that is not to say safety seminars are worthless. We all need to sharpen our saws occasionally, and there are always changes in equipment, regulations and processes that we need to communicate. We also like to get out and hear from the pilot community. We have a lot of respect for pilots who give up their free time to come talk with us. We want to hear about your challenges and things causing you concern.

Still, we would like to have the general aviation accident rate not be ten times worse than the airlines, so we have started a new initiative titled, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) in Aviation. The highway side of MnDOT has been working on a Toward Zero Death initiative for a number of years now. They have data showing their actions have reduced crashes and fatalities on our highways. We would like to have a similar impact on the GA accident rate.

There is an old saying that goes something like, “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” Clearly, we have been doing safety seminars. That is not bending the graph downward. The accident and death rates appear to fluctuate with what a statistician might describe as normal variation. To move toward our goal, we need to look at what else we might do to have an impact, so we’ve pulled together a team of some of our sharpest folks, and we are partnering with the FAA and looking for other partners that would like to help.

We are looking at the data. There is good data on the causes of accidents, who is having accidents by certificate type and flight hours, and mission. Until recently, the location data for accidents wasn’t very good. GPS is improving that, just as it has impacted the rest of aviation. We want to take a deeper dive into the data to better understand our target audience and the locations where the need is greatest.

Then we have to try new tactics to see what works. Here is where we are looking, beyond the aviation industry, to others like our TZD folks on the highway side, to learn more about things they have had success with and where they are going. Additionally, we have some aviation specific ideas that haven’t been tried. We are open to all ideas that come forward. We realize this isn’t going to be easy, but we think it is important work. We are inspired by the results TZD has achieved on the highway side.

If you’d like to join the effort, or just throw your two cents worth in on the subject, we’d love to hear from you. Drop me an e-mail at If I can’t get back to you, someone on the team will.

AvRep Rick Braunig


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