The British Gliding Association, which includes all member clubs, is committed to safe practices with the objective of facilitating a sport gliding environment where the levels of risk are as low as reasonably practicable. This will be achieved through the implementation of an effective safety management system and a process of continuing improvement.
The BGA gives priority to continuing to reduce the fatal accident rate, to not harming any third parties and to avoiding any airspace infringements.
By adopting a Safety Management System that meets the needs of its clubs and the sport, the BGA aims to move beyond the traditional reactionary systems to try to predict areas of exposure.
The BGA Safety Management System manual documents the BGA risk management approach and was formally adopted by the BGA Executive Committee on 14th January 2014.
Gliding participants are subject to statutory (ANO and EASA rules) and non-statutory BGA rules and guidance, which include topics like supervision, training, emergency procedures and accident investigation. Laws and Rules can be viewed here.
Health and Safety Legislation
Health and safety law does not cover safety matters arising out of the sport or activity itself, ie flying gliders. Note that a duty of care under the common (civil) law may apply.
Awareness and Education
Instructors, inspectors, and others in key positions need to ensure their decisions are made with an awareness of the safety implications. Pilots are encouraged to make themselves aware of the risks inherent in gliding and to consider known good practice to help themselves avoid problems. All pilots should read the BGA publication ‘managing flying risk guidance‘ and stay aware of published safety education materials which are available under the ‘Search Safety Library’ button. The BGA encourages a ‘just culture’ that in turn encourages free and frank reporting.
The safe winching and safe aerotowing webpages include some excellent presentations. These presentations and a variety of other safety education publications including accident investigation reports are available under the ‘Search Safety Library’ button. The BGA safety committee highlights important new safety information by email and in the monthly BGA Newsletter. BGA accident and incident report summaries are published in Sailplane and Gliding magazine and on this website. Learn more at:
- Safety briefings
- Safe winch launching
- Safe aerotowing
- Spin avoidance
- Collision avoidance (including FLARM/other technology)
- Managing Flying Risk – essential detail for all pilots
- Human Failings – a 2017 presentation for use at BGA clubs
- Accident Investigation Reports
- Accident & Incident Summaries
- All safety documents (sub-categorised)
Airspace – Take a look at the Airspace webpages to learn more about airspace safety.
Briefings – There are some very helpful safety briefings available here.
CAA – The CAA flight safety magazine, Clued Up, is available here.
CHIRP – Human factors in safety are considered by the CHIRP organisation using real examples of incidents.
Club Safety Officer Toolkit – The CSO toolkit helpfully pulls together information and resources likely to be of interest to CSO’s regardless of their experience. The CSO toolkit is available here.
Club Safety Review – The need to carry out a club safety review is identified in the safety management system manual and detailed in the BGA published document ‘Club safety review guidance’ published in the ‘Safety library’.
Distress and Diversion – There’s a D&D guide available here.
Emergency Evacuation – BGA guidance is available at ‘Parachuting after a Mid-Air Collision‘. More detailed guidance is described in this IGC presentation ‘Emergency Glider Evacuation’. You can view a briefing on bailing-out by G Dale that is based on his experience following a midair collision.
Field landings – Guidance is provided on the Field Landing webpage.
GASCo – The GA Safety Council (GASCo) carry out a number of highly recommended safety evenings across the UK, including at gliding clubs. The programme is available here. GASCo publish GASCo Flight Safety and Safety Extra, both of which are available here.
Health & Safety – Refer to the BGA Health and Safety webpage.
How safe is gliding? – Gliding is an adventurous air sport and as such is not as safe as travelling on a commercial airliner. If you are looking for a totally risk free sport, gliding may not be right for you. The BGA gives priority to continuing to reduce the fatal accident rate and to not harming any third parties. In the latest 10 year period, the trainee glider pilot serious injury rate was 0.13 with zero fatalities. For all glider pilots in the same period, the serious injury rate was 1.46 with a fatal injury rate of 0.54.
Human Factors – The human in us makes us particularly vulnerable when flying. Understanding our own limitations is important. There are some excellent Human Factors related articles, including topics such as ageing pilots, decision making, hypoxia, etc on the Gliding NZ website.
Learning from accidents – It’s vital to learn from other people’s incidents and accidents. They provide powerful lessons and encourage each of us to reflect on our own flying, helping to reduce the chance of a repeat accident in the future.
The BGA is extremely grateful to these pilots for allowing us to share their experiences for the benefit of others.
Managing flying risk – The ‘Managing Flying Risk Guidance’ provides practical advice based on decades of BGA experience.
Military – The RAF flight safety magazine, Air Clues, is available here.
Oxygen – It is established good practice to use additional oxygen when flying at altitudes of around 10,000 feet, and critically important to do so with increasing altitude. A renowned gliding adventurer and record breaker, Jean-Marie Clement, has written an article describing why he believes that in some circumstances use of additional oxygen may be necessary at much lower altitudes. In this personal view, Jean-Marie describes a zero-hypoxia approach to flying. You can view the article here.
Reporting an incident, accident or occurrence – Through reporting incidents and accidents, other pilots can be helped to avoid similar experiences in the future. Please refer to Reporting an Incident, Accident and Occurrence
Safety Management System – The BGA SMS manual is available here.
Sailplane and Gliding – ‘S&G’ is packed with useful information. You can find it here.
What to do if you have a safety concern – If you have an immediate safety concern, don’t assume someone else has either noticed or will deal with it! In the first instance talk to the person or people involved. And where appropriate or if in doubt, follow it up with the club CFI or safety officer.
BGA Safety Committee
The BGA Safety Committee reports to the BGA Executive Committee. Safety Committee work and communication takes place on an ongoing basis throughout the year. The Safety Committee meets periodically and the meeting notes that have been finalised following BGA Executive Committee consideration can be made available on request.
The Safety Committee includes the Accountable Manager, Safety Data Analyst, Chief Technical Officer, Training Standards Manager, Safety Officer co-ordinator, and invited subject matter experts.