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The History of the School of Aviation Safety

Beginning in the early 1950s, the Navy along with the other military services worked with the University of Southern California (USC) to establish a source of safety education for military officers, especially aviation safety officers (ASO). Until 1965, the single source for such education was located on the USC campus. In 1965, the Navy established its own aviation safety school at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. The Army then established its school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and the Air Force, while retaining USC as the contractor, moved its school to Norton Air Force Base, California (subsequently to Kirtland AFB, New Mexico). Initially, the Naval Postgraduate School's aviation safety course was integrated into the undergraduate degree program. The Director of Aviation Safety Programs reported to the Director of Programs at the Postgraduate School and served as a principal advisor to the Commander of the Naval Safety Center on matters of safety education and training.

In 1967, Aviation Safety Programs was created as a separately accredited curriculum. At that time, the Aviation Safety Command Course was also moved from USC to the Naval Postgraduate School. This course was specifically designed for commanders and executive officers of aviation squadrons and activities, and for senior staff aviation safety officers.

In 1995, Aviation Safety Programs became the School of Aviation Safety. The Director reported to the Superintendent and the Provost and served as a principal adviser to the Commander of the Naval Safety Center on matters regarding aviation safety education and training. Today the Naval School of Aviation Safety educates over 750 Navy, Marine and Coast Guard officers each year as well as members of NASA, the FAA and foreign services. The present staff is headed by a Navy Captain and consists of military and civilian instructors and administrative support personnel.

Tremendous strides have been made in reducing the Naval aircraft mishap rates. For example, there were 13,201 Class A (non-combat related) mishaps in 1945, a rate of 83.3 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours, with 6,497 aircraft destroyed and 3,171 pilots and aircrew killed. In 1953 the mishap rate was 51.2 per 100,000 flight hours. In the period from 1999 to 2003 naval aviation has averaged 1.89 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours. In May 2003, the Secretary of Defense issued a challenge to reduce the number of mishaps by 50%. The Naval School of Aviation Safety is addressing the challenge by focusing the education of aviation safety officers and an increase in unit safety awareness.

There is a constant fleet demand for both ASO and ASC quotas, as well as on-site workshops in aviation safety. The staff responds daily to questions on programs, reporting, aerodynamics, aero-structures, psychology and investigations from fleet aviation commands. In October of 2004, the School of Aviation Safety was relocated to Pensacola, Florida. The school returned to Monterey, California for 3 months following Hurricane Ivan. As of April 2005 the school was officially aligned under Naval Aviation Schools Command. In October of 2013, the school aligned with the Naval Safety Center and is a pro-active, involved resource that has contributed significantly to the mission readiness of Naval Aviation.


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Commander, Naval Safety Center, 375 A Street, Norfolk, VA 23511 | (757) 444-3520 / (DSN 564) | 
School of Aviation Safety, 181 Chambers Ave Suite A, Pensacola, FL 32508-5271 | 850-452-3181 (DSN 459) | 

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