Make FAAST Your FAA Connection

By Scott Spangler on July 17th, 2008

Am I the last airman in America to totally ignore the free and invaluable gift that is FAAST, the FAA Safety Team at www.FAASafety.gov?

FAA_Safety-Team Sometime during the past two years I gave the FAA my email address. When and how doesn’t matter. What’s important is that I started receiving FAASTeam Notices about important stuff like new ADs, airspace changes, and the like. I also received notices of safety clinics in my area, which I routinely ignored until the recent tailwheel clinic south of me (see Pilots Flock to Stick & Rudder Safety Clinic).

I went to the FAAST website to get directions to the clinic, but I didn’t take the time to explore it beyond the information I wanted on the clinic. I was just too busy. Then the clinic moderator mentioned the new Wings program. Huh? New? What happened to the old one?

To find out I finally started clicking buttons on the FAAST home page (the new Wings program, now a true proficiency program, will be the subject of an upcoming post). The more I found the harder I kicked myself for not visiting sooner. Now, just one address replaces the dozens of FAA URLs because www.FAASafety.gov puts me no more than two clicks away from more than 95 percent of the information I need.

Not just for pilots, the site serves avionics and maintenance technicians as well. Before you do anything else, become a member of the FAASTeam. All it takes is an email address and a user-provided password. Then complete your profile, which includes certificates and ratings, the category and class of aircraft you’re interested in, and how far from your Zip code you want to travel for seminars. This customizes the site and the news it sends to you.

Urge everyone you know to sign up, especially if they are sport pilots flying on a driver’s license medical. If someone at FAA is looking beyond this site, they’ll use this information to more accurately take the census of active pilots, which are now counted by the number of current FAA medical certificates. (See General Aviation Won’t Find Future Pilots in Rear View Mirror.)

The site offers too much cool stuff to cover here, but in broad categories it ranges from FAA handbooks (usually in PDF format) and Advisory Circulars to online training courses and databases covering airmen, aircraft, and the FARs. All of it is well organized and easy to find.

The FAASTeam’s mission is to reduce accidents, just as it was with the old FAA Safety Program and the FAA Accident Prevention Program before that. What make FAAST different is more than the website. The FAA has finally realized that one size doesn’t fit all, that flying in Alaska is not like flying in the LA Basin.

To customize the program the team draws on accident/incident reports, hazards identified by FSDO inspectors, and information from the area’s aviation community. A national coordinator supports the eight regional managers who work with individual program managers to customize the clinics and other offerings to that area’s particular aviation missions.

Anyone can become a FAAST member, and the benefits are well worth the time it takes to sign up. And if you’re a CFI or avionics/maintenance technician, you can be a volunteer FAASTeam Representative, working closely with area program managers to spread the safety word.

If you haven’t been to www.FAASafety.gov, give it a visit now and sign up. If it comes up in a hangar conversation, nod your head knowingly. I’ll be happy to take the heat for being the last airman in America to realize he’s been ignoring a free gift. — Scott Spangler 

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