NBAA Marks the Passing of Leading Business Aviation Safety Expert Bob Breiling
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has marked the passing of Robert E. Breiling, a former NBAA director and the preeminent business aviation safety data expert. Breiling was 88.
“Bob Breiling’s legacy is his dedicated and detailed research and analysis of business aircraft accidents,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “As the preeminent business aviation safety data expert, Breiling helped promote standards that have led to improvements in safety and training.”
The highlights of Breiling’s involvement with NBAA included serving on the association’s Board of Directors from 1973-1980. He also served on the association’s Safety Committee, and, starting in 1979, he helped NBAA staff conduct a series of operations manual workshops.
Breiling is best known for his pioneering safety data collection and analysis. He compiled and analyzed information on turbine-powered business aircraft accidents since business jets were introduced in the early 1960s, initially for a major aviation insurance underwriter, then under the banner of his own firm, Robert E. Breiling Associates, Inc.
He later developed detailed annual and quarterly summaries of mishaps and analysis of individual turbine aircraft accidents, presenting his findings at the Flight Safety Foundation’s annual Business Aviation Safety Seminar from the mid-1960s through 2000.
In 2015 the International Business Aviation Council purchased Robert E. Breiling Associates in order to continue Breiling’s work in facilitating the improvement of business aviation safety by identifying areas where risk is the highest.
Breiling’s data also was instrumental in obtaining an industry-wide FAA alternative that allows the use of advanced simulators for some pilot-recurrency requirements, instead of in-aircraft experience. His safety analysis also helped support the development of FAR Part 91K, regulations governing fractional operators.
Born Feb. 12, 1929, Breiling was an airplane enthusiast from his early years, He joined the U.S. Navy in 1951, where he became a pilot and eventually flew a McDonnell Banshee F2H-3 and an F9F Panther, Grumman’s first jet fighter and one of the Navy’s first carrier-based jet fighters. He flew from the U.S.S. Hornet aircraft carrier while stationed in the Pacific in 1954 and 1955, and served a total of 24 years in the Navy Reserve, ending his military service as the commander of a Lockheed P-2V squadron in 1974.
Following his active military service, Breiling flew for Pan American World Airways for three years, then joined the insurance industry, where he first engaged in accident analysis. He later was one of the principals involved in the founding of SimuFlite, the aviation training company that now is part of CAE.
In 2012, Breiling received NBAA’s John P. “Jack” Doswell Award for lifelong individual achievement on behalf of and in support of the aims, goals and objectives of business aviation. In accepting this award, Breiling said, “I would like to think that my work over the years in analyzing turbine aircraft accidents has created awareness as to their causes and helped reduce accidents.”
Breiling was a member of the Navy League and the Quiet Birdmen and is recognized on the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Wall of Honor.