On May 15, during one of the semi-annual meetings of our Board of Governors, I reported on the financial condition of Flight Safety Foundation. The Foundation’s financial report draws a lot of attention because it speaks directly to the organization’s ability to meet its financial obligations and to carry on with its vital work of reducing risk in aviation.
Beginning in late 2011, as the 2012 budget was being constructed, we saw signs that our primary funding source — membership revenue — was beginning to decrease because of a fall-off in existing member renewals and a slowdown of new member sign-ups. Other factors included a decrease in attendance at our safety summits and an increase in operating costs tied to the development of a major new safety program and to some internal operating inefficiencies.
While the state of the world economy, which has at least an indirect impact on membership and conference attendance, is beyond our control, we have taken a number of steps to address our financial and operational situation.
We studied where we could reduce overhead without negatively impacting our level of service, which essentially meant taking a look at how efficiently we meet the needs of our members and the aviation community as a whole. What resulted from that exercise was a reduction in full-time staff members from a total of 26 to 20 in our offices in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., and Melbourne, Australia. Technical project facilitation, executive leadership and AeroSafety World production have been modified in order to reduce the overhead. Our ratio of operating costs to total intake is 14 percent, which is very good when compared with other non-profit organizations.
We also are working to freshen up our safety seminars. We want our summits and seminars to be the most valuable and engaging safety events you attend each year. We recognize there are many other conferences to choose from, so we are working hard to make our summits and seminars the industry’s best.
I am working with our International Air Safety Summit (IASS) and Business Aviation Safety Summit (BASS) agenda committees to make the Foundation’s two premier events more “real time,” featuring carefully vetted presentations on more current safety and operational topics. We will be adding interactive technology so viewpoints and opinions can be shared instantaneously. We also are targeting venues that are interesting and easy to travel to, all the while keeping the cost as low as possible.
But what we really need is your support. Whether you are currently a member, or a person who is aware of us and not a member, or someone who has just picked up this magazine for the first time, you need to support the Foundation. Our value to you and the industry is multi-dimensional. We continually facilitate reducing the risk in aviation through research committees, public and industry meeting appearances, our magazine and website, summits, and news media interviews. In addition, everyone associated with aviation has a responsibility to give back to the industry that we personally gain from. We must keep aviation as risk free as we can, in order to continue to thrive and grow.
Without the Foundation to be that international, independent and impartial source to help facilitate the cause, the aviation industry may not progress as well as we have in the past. Please renew your membership, sign up as a new member, attend a summit or just donate. All these can be done on our website, and we need you now to help us continue to provide the service we all need!