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Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

CNAL Stands Up Safety Training Team

by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tatyana Freeman
30 September 2022 Rear Adm. John F. Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL), established a safety training team, September 16, 2022, in order to observe, understand, and solve potential risk factors in naval aviation.

Two Naval Officers talking in an office
SLIDESHOW | 8 images | Safety Training Team Observation VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Sep. 22, 2022)- Capt. Joshua Appezzato, a member of the safety training team assigned to Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, speaks to Commander Stephen Eckhart, commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105. The safety training team is a proactive response to ensure best practices are implemented in the fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tatyana Freeman)
The safety training team is comprised of senior leadership in aviation, both officer and enlisted, to provide a critical eye on safety procedures and proactive solutions in order to better prevent mishaps.
“The intention with the safety team is that this team will go and observe,” Meier said. “They’ll watch (a squadron’s) safety brief, a tow, a launch, or someone doing maintenance and really pause and take a good look at how they’re doing business.”
Meier plans to send out his safety training team one to two times a month to observe the units in his command and see where potential issues may arise.
“We’re here to point out the things that deviate from perfection in regards to safety, documenting that, and elevating it to be solved,” Meier said. 
Meier briefed his objectives and tasks to the safety team on September 16, and by September 21, they began their first round of safety observations by visiting Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105.
“Being able to walk the deckplates with Sailors and hearing those concerns in person allows us to take action on deficiencies that maybe we weren’t tracking,” said Cmdr. Johnny Harkins, the deputy for the safety officer assigned to CNAL, and a member of the safety training team.
The safety training team observed VFA 105 over a period of two days. They watched maintenance meetings, foreign object debris (FOD) walkdowns, and spoke to Sailors as they worked over the course of the day. The team asked the Sailors about manning, access to proper equipment and protective gear, and the condition of the environments they were working in.
“Every day these Sailors are told to be safe,” Harkins said. “I don’t think you can say it too much. I think us coming here shows the Sailors that we really do take this seriously. It’s something we really want to show that we feel is important.”
VFA 105’s observational visit is the first of many visits the team plans to conduct in order to ensure the forward progression of an overall safer naval aviation program.
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