Two aviation professors work on safety group
Two Purdue aviation technology professors are helping shape a national plan to transform the U.S. air transportation system by increasing its capacity and efficiency and easing congestion. Their involvement is also giving students firsthand knowledge about a variety of current events and industry issues.
Timothy Ropp, an assistant professor who specializes in aircraft maintenance, and Brian Dillman, an associate professor who teaches flight technology, have been selected to serve as members of the working group on safety for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (known as NextGen).
Their monthly meetings in Washington, DC, focus on defining good risk management practices and key components of a safety culture.
“Safety in a dynamic environment like aviation is not something you ‘do’ and check it off your list for the day,” says Tim Ropp. “So many variables can erode safety and challenge even the best safety systems every minute. Trying to incorporate that concept into useable tools and processes we evaluate or help develop is a breathtaking challenge.”
This project benefits more than NextGen, however. Both professors are gaining national exposure for the University by highlighting the expertise available at Purdue, and Purdue students are benefiting from their real-world examples.
“The group interactions, presentations, and problem-solving approaches we use in the safety working group are the same techniques we’ve taught to our students over the years,” says Brian Dillman. “Students become noticeably more engaged in the learning process when they take a stab at solving these same real-world problems.”
Ropp and Dillman must maintain confidentiality about some of the components of the developing system. But the issues that are raised can be discussed with students in a classroom setting.
“The issues addressed by government and industry groups represent the most urgent research and development needs of industry,” says Tim Ropp. “As a result, we can come back and discuss projects and information in almost real-time. That is invaluable to students entering industry in any capacity.”