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CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Col. James L. Fisher, AETC director of safety

Col. James L. Fisher, AETC director of safety

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- With the summer season in full swing and the kids out of school, the permanent change of station season is upon us. And change is definitely coming. Air Education and Training Command will even see a change of command this summer.

I will also be leaving. As I wrap up my tour as the director of safety, I marvel at some of the significant milestones you have accomplished out in the field.

In the flight safety arena, you directly contributed to the Air Force making history in FY14 by recording its lowest Class A mishap rate ever -- .44 per 100,000 flying hours. You did your part to help achieve this mark by posting a Class A mishap rate even lower than the Air Force's record-setting mark (AETC's rate was .25 per 100,000 flying hours). We also celebrated zero flight-related fatalities in FY14.

In ground safety, we saw the Air Force achieve its lowest mishap fatality rate in a decade. The Air Force finished FY14 with three on-duty and 42 off-duty fatalities, for rates of 1.09 and 13.01, respectively, per 100,000 people. The 10-year average is 5.9 on-duty and 50.6 off-duty fatalities. AETC, meanwhile, again did its part by recording rates even lower than the Air Force averages. AETC had zero on-duty and five off-duty ground fatalities, for rates of 0.0 and 9.6, respectively. Also, based on a five-year average, the command posted a 28 percent drop in off-duty fatalities, a 39 percent reduction in on-duty military mishaps, a 30 percent reduction in on-duty civilian mishaps, and a 32 percent and 31 percent decline in four-wheel vehicle and motorcycle accidents, respectively.

As a matter of fact, the mishap prevention strides we have made in the command as a whole led to us earning the Col. Will L. Tubbs Memorial Award for ground safety. These safety/mishap prevention accomplishments are all the more remarkable considering we accomplished this as our force was stretched and stressed during an era of constrained resources and continued high operations tempo.

While we have had some significant accomplishments in mishap prevention, there is always more that can be done to keep our Airmen safe. A new team brings fresh ideas. My replacement, Col. Dean Lee, comes to the director’s positon from Air Force ROTC at Virginia Military Institute and has a wealth of AETC and safety experience. Additionally, as Gen. Robin Rand transitions to his new position at Global Strike Command, our new commander, Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, is coming from U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and has a full understanding of the high operations tempo that happens every day within AETC.

I consider it an honor to continue to serve in our Air Force and have truly enjoyed my time as the director of safety. There is no doubt the Air Force will continue to face new challenges as we bring new systems like the F-35 and KC-46 into the AETC inventory, and there will continue to be fiscal pressures to do more and more with less money, manpower and resources. I have all the confidence in our ability to balance these complex competing priorities and continue to provide a safe and healthy work environment for our force. Please continue to do the great work you are doing for First Command, and remember to use sound risk management principles and solid decision making both on and off duty.