In 1970, a new breed of safety superheroes appeared in the skies above Washington, D.C. when the FAA’s General Aviation Accident Prevention Program was born. Its ultimate goal was to prevent GA accidents by improving aviators’ attitudes, knowledge, and proficiency — and it worked initially.
By 1985, the program had faded into aviation folklore. The FAA rebranded the effort as the Aviation Safety Program, hoping to revitalize the original function. This attempt had a minimal effect because it lacked the necessary conceptual and structural changes and did not use risk management and system safety principles or new technology concepts.
They say the third time’s the charm, and in 2006 the new and improved “FAA Safety Team” (aka, the FAASTeam) emerged. The team’s mission was to improve the nation’s aviation safety record by conveying safety principles and practices through training, outreach, and education, which is similar to the FAASTeam’s current mission statement. A dedicated group of FAA employees and an extensive network of volunteer superheroes from the aviation community set forth to accomplish this quest. FAASTeam program managers (FPMs) became part of each Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) to establish meaningful aviation industry alliances and encourage the continual growth of a positive safety culture. The FAASTeam falls under the FAA’s Flight Standards Service General Aviation and Commercial Division and works closely with the Aircraft Maintenance Division.
The FAASTeam could not function without its volunteer superhero force. They are the unsung heroes that keep many accidents at bay. These superheroes stem from all segments of the aviation community, including GA, air carriers, corporate and business aviation, repair facilities, flight and mechanic schools, fixed-base operators, and other aviation entities.
Keep reading if you want to use your superpowers to pay it forward and be a force for good. These are our different types of safety superheroes.
816,592 FAASTeam Members
The largest group of safety-minded aviators and mechanics are our FAASTeam Members. This includes anyone who makes a conscious effort to promote aviation safety and become part of the shift in safety culture.
To make the transition and hone your safety powers, you must create a user account on FAASafety.gov. It’s not just for pilots — anyone can sign up and participate. The website offers online courses, webinars, local in-person seminars, awards programs, and email notifications. Test your skills, and enhance your situational awareness of all things aviation.
1,728 FAASTeam Representatives
Without the FAASTeam Representative (aka, the Rep), the team would not succeed in its mission. These card-carrying superheroes are the backbone for promoting and fostering aviation safety. Reps provide outreach to the aviation community and share their technical expertise and professional knowledge.
The Rep works closely with an FPM actively promoting aviation safety. They receive training and support and can even ride in the “gov-mobile” with an FPM.
Reps are responsible for assisting the FPM in promoting and fostering aviation safety. They serve as volunteers who work directly with or under the local FPM’s guidance in various program activities. They also serve as safety advisors for the aviation community, advise individuals concerning safety issues, direct individuals to appropriate FAA personnel for additional help, and, if qualified, may counsel pilots or aviation maintenance technicians in need of assistance with specific aviation safety concerns.
The FSDO may call on Reps to conduct remedial training events, such as ground or flight training for pilots and training for aviation maintenance technicians and repairmen. Only Reps with current and valid ground or flight instructor certificates, a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings, and an Inspection Authorization, if appropriate, can provide remedial training.
A Rep’s primary responsibility is to plan and conduct events that earn WINGS or AMT training credit or awards, including the Wright Brothers Master Pilot and Charles Taylor Master Mechanic awards and the annual General Aviation Awards (generalaviationawards.com). The Rep can also play a significant role in helping to maintain a safe operating environment by facilitating a positive working relationship with airport personnel, airport users, the FAA, and the local community.
Each FSDO may designate Lead Reps to help manage the local program. Reps are further specialized in working with the WINGS program or operating drones. There are currently 185 WINGSPros and 243 DronePros available through the online FAASTeam directory to assist the aviation community.
Become a Rep by logging into FAASafety.gov, clicking About the FAASTeam at the top-right of the page, then clicking Join the FAASTeam. First, speak with a local FPM and complete two online courses — ALC-270, Representative Training: Representative Manual, and ALC-297, Representative Training: IT Security. To find these courses, click on the Activities, Courses, Seminars & Webinars tab, click on Courses, then View All Available Courses, then scroll to the bottom and click on Show Courses Without Credit.
2,123 FAASTeam Service Providers
Just because you are not a certificated pilot or mechanic does not mean you can’t be an aviation superhero too. Our FAASTeam Service Providers are often safety sidekicks to our Reps.
Anyone who contributes essential program-related support to the FAASTeam can be of service — including a presentation as a subject matter expert, providing meeting space for a seminar, offering equipment like chairs and tables, assisting with video editing and production, supplying donuts and coffee, or any other type of support. No formal training is required, and the appointment doesn’t expire. Reps that no longer meet annual training requirements convert automatically to this role.
Become a Service Provider by logging into FAASafety.gov, clicking About the FAASTeam at the top-right of the page, then clicking Join the FAASTeam.
44 FAASTeam Industry Members
These safety sidekicks are companies that have a vested interest in aviation safety. National Industry Members are national-level organizations, businesses, associations, and industries that support the FAASTeam at FAA headquarters. Local Industry Members are state aviation departments, local industry or governmental entities, local chapters of national organizations, and businesses that support the FAASTeam locally.
Each member organization has a formal agreement in place with the FAA. Examples include the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), Avemco Insurance Company (provider of the WINGS pins), Balloon Federation of America (BFA), Civil Air Patrol (CAP), King Schools, National Agriculture Aviation Association (NAAA), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), Ninety-Nines, Pilot Institute, SocialFlight, and Sporty’s.
Become an Industry Member by speaking with a local FPM or the national FAASTeam (NFM on the search page). Go to FAASafety.gov, click the Resources tab, then Directory to search for an FPM or NFM.
279 FAASTeam Training Providers
A person or an organization can be a FAASTeam Training Provider. These superhero teachers conduct accredited training under the WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program or AMT Awards Program and provide online validation of training completed. However, this designation does not apply to FAA-certificated instructors with the authority to conduct accredited flight activities as part of WINGS.
Training Providers may also conduct FAA-accepted Inspection Authorization (IA) refresher training provided they receive additional authorization from the FAA.
Employers are training providers that employ FAA-certificated pilots, mechanics, repairmen, or non-certificated maintenance personnel to perform maintenance or inspect U.S.-registered aircraft or components. In-house training of aviation personnel may streamline their participation in the AMT Awards Program by registering as an Employer.
Become a Training Provider by logging into FAASafety.gov, clicking on the Resources tab, then clicking on Training Providers, and looking for the form link.
With our powers combined, we can help maintain and improve what is already the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world!
(Editor’s note: The number of each type of FAASTeam volunteer used in the subheads is from April 28, 2023.)
Paul Cianciolo is an associate editor and the social media lead for FAA Safety Briefing. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran and an auxiliary airman with Civil Air Patrol.