Larry Swantner brings 35 years of aviation experience, insight and flying enjoyment to Flight Safety Foundation, where he will act as manager of program development for the Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) program team to broaden its profile globally.
Much of Swantner’s flying experience was in Africa, where he was reminded all too often of the pressing need for improvements in safety and operational standards. As the flight attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, in the mid to late 1980s, he participated in major accident investigations. One accident was the crash that claimed the life of the president of a southern African nation; another involved the loss of a Boeing 747 and all aboard. More recently, he has conducted surveys of several African countries to determine their commercial aviation capacity and safety oversight capability.
“About two years back, I was presenting a report on the state of African aviation to the Corporate Council on Africa’s Business Summit when I became aware of Flight Safety Foundation’s work to improve safety oversight of chartered flight operations in support of resource companies,” Swantner told ASW. He sought to meet FSF President and CEO William R. Voss after the Africa summit, and their interests coalesced at once around the idea that would become the BARS program.
“The work that Bill and his colleagues have done to develop a practical approach to a problem many people only hear about in the context of bad news is admirable,” Swantner said. “I’m convinced that the BARS program represents the best systematic approach to raising the level of safety for flight operations in some of the most challenging environments in the world. I hope I can help expand this vital program to enhance safety and oversight. I’ve seen too many avoidable accidents, been asked by the media to comment too often on why something tragic happened in some remote location. I’d rather not have to make those comments.”
Swantner’s aviation career spans both the military and commercial sectors. He was flight operations manager for Delta Air Lines in New York and the company’s representative to the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, which consists of selected aircraft from U.S. air carriers used in meeting military airlift requirements. He supervised forward deployment operations during the fleet’s Iraq war mobilization. He also managed a Delta project to convert a Boeing 767 into a medical evacuation configuration.
During operations in the Persian Gulf from 1990 to 1991, he was commander of the U.S. Air Force’s largest airlift squadron. He played a diplomatic role in the Air Force, too, accredited to several countries in southern Africa, where he traveled extensively throughout the region, surveying infrastructure and observing the political and military dynamics of the area.