Navy Safety Admiral: Mishap Increases Correlate to Changes in OPTEMPO
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The admiral in charge of Navy safety programs said that increases in aviation mishaps seem to correlate to changes in operational tempo (OPTEMPO) — up or down — of units, not a lack of flight hours.
Testifying June 13 before the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Ground Forces subcommittee, Rear Adm. Mark Leavitt, commander, Naval Safety Center, said “the Navy and Marine Corps team has not been able to draw direct correlation between a lack of flight hours and an increase in mishaps.
“What we have discovered through a study that was done recently was a change in OPTEMPO from a very high OPTEMPO to a very low OPTEMPO, or from a very low OPTEMPO to a very high OPTEMPO, that is where we see the greatest increase of risk. The fluctuation between the two is when we see the increased level of risk out there going forward.”
Leavitt did not quote specific statistics but said that the Navy’s breakdown of mishap causes was similar to that of the Army in that most of the mishaps in the Navy and Marine Corps were due to human factors.
Brig. Gen. David J. Francis, commanding general, U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, and director of Army safety, also testifying, said the statistical breakdown of the causes of the Army’s mishaps was 76 percent to 80 percent from human factors and 15 percent to 19 percent to material causes.
Leavitt said the causes of another 5 percent of the Navy and Marine Corps’ mishaps are “yet to be determined due to ongoing investigations.”
He said that human factors coding allows the services “to get after those specific traits that we either need to change publications for, change tactics and procedures for, or do some training adjustments as we need to.”
The Navy and Marine Corps have had an increase in minor ground mishaps, mostly involving incidents during maintenance and mostly in the communities that fly the most numerous types of aircraft: the F/A-18 and MH-60, in the case of the Navy, and the F/A-18 and MV-22, in the case of the Marine Corps.