Moral Courage Award

November 30, 2012 by Tim McAdams

Moral Courage can be thought of as the willingness to make sound safety decisions even when they are difficult or unpopular. Many times the pilot that exercises the courage to turn a flight down is making a tough decision, and in many cases their actions go unnoticed. Although it is impossible to know about the accident that didn’t happen, it is a reasonable assumption that a certain percentage of no-go decisions have prevented accidents and possibly saved lives.  Mr. D Smith, Senior Air Safety Investigator with the DOT/Transportation Safety Institute, believes that although these types of decisions are ones without fanfare, they are no less heroic than the more visible actions of other aviators. As such, he is looking for nominations for a new Moral Courage Safety Award. The award is aimed at recognizing individuals and organizations in the helicopter industry that make operational decisions based on sound safety risk management principles.  

According to Mr. Smith, “The award was inspired from the true story of an EMS pilot who told of his decision to abort a critical neonatal transport after encountering un-forecasted bad weather.  It was a very tough call; he had to weigh the safety of the crew with the life of a patient.  In the end he aborted the transport knowing it was the right decision for the safety of everyone.  His organization supported the decision and even went so far as to recognize him for making that tough call.  Sometimes choosing the safest course of action can cost time or money, but in the long run it saves time, money, reputation, and possibly lives.  It takes moral courage to do the right thing.  We believe there are many individuals and organizations making these tough calls every day.  We want to recognize them for their contribution to promoting a positive safety culture in the rotorcraft community.” 

Helicopter crew members, maintenance personnel, managers, and their organizations are eligible for the award. If you are interested in nominating someone please draft a short narrative of the event(s) and send it to d.smith@dot.gov . The award will be presented during the annual HAI Heli-Expo.

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