Aviation Safety

Parks College's legacy of safety continues to be at the forefront of its teaching.


Aviation safety incorporates the theory, examination, and classification of flight failures, and the prevention of such failures through regulation, education, and training. It can also be applied in the context of campaigns that inform the public as to the safety of air travel.

In 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Parks College $2.25 million to form the Center for Aviation Safety Research (CASR). The center is focused on Safety Management Systems, Safety Culture, Maintenance Aviation Safety Programs, Next Generation Safety Assessment, Incident Investigation, Multi-Risk Analysis, and Next-Generation Maintenance and Engineering. The center’s six full-time staff members, faculty and student researchers are housed in the department of aviation science, where they pursue research on sustainable safety initiatives for air transportation and other high-consequence industries. In 2009, the FAA awarded another $2 million to SLU to focus on “next generation” aviation workforce needs — specifically aviation and aerospace maintenance engineering curricula.

With the FAA as CASR’s primary customer, CASR partners with organizations including NASA, the National Transportation Safety Board, the National Patient Safety Foundation, the Chemical Safety Board, more than 20 airlines and repair stations, and several hospitals.

 Name Position / Expertise Contact
manoj-patankarManoj Patankar
Ph.D., FRAeS, M.S., B.S.
Professor and Executive Director at the Center for Aviation Safety Research
Aviation safety and security

Phone: (314) 977-8530

Email: patankar@slu.edu

damon-lercelDamon Lercel
Ph.D., MBA, BS
Center for Aviation Safety Research Program Director
Aviation safety and security

Phone: (314) 977-8527

Email: dlercel@slu.edu

terrence-kellyTerrence Kelly
Ph.D.M.S., B.S.
Professor and Maintenance ASAP
Aviation Safety, Aircraft and Fluid Power Systems, Technical Training, Applied Technology, Organizational Psychology, Accident Prevention, Human Factors, Manufacturing/Quality

Phone: (314) 977-8245

Email: kellytk@slu.edu

Research Papers
  • Andrews, D. H., Lercel, D., Patankar, M. (2014) Cognitive Task Analysis for Pilots of Unmanned Aerial Systems. Download Paper Here
  • Steckel, R., Lercel, D., Rieser, T., Kostal, E., Patankar, M. (2013) Safety Management Systems for Aviation Service Providers: A Comparison with Current Federal Regulations, Industry Standards, and Programs. Download Paper Here
  • Kelly, T., Meyer, R., & Patankar, M. (2012). Safety Culture: Testing the Safety Culture Pyramid with Structural Equation Modeling. Download Paper Here
  • Steckel, R., & Patankar, M. (2012). Adapting Line Operations Safety Audits to General Aviation. Download Paper Here
  • Lercel, D., Steckel, R., Mondello, S., Carr, E., & Patankar, M. (2011). Aviation Safety Management Systems—Return on Investment Study. Download Paper Here
  • Kelly, T., Lercel, D., & Patankar, M. (2011). Influence of Trust and Job Satisfaction on Safety Climate Among Managers at a Large U.S. Air Carrier. Download Paper Here
  • Lercel, D. & Patankar, M. (2011). Applicability-Based Model for Safety Management Systems Compliance by Part 145 Repair Stations. Download Paper Here


Air Traffic Control (ATC) Laboratory

Students gain hands-on experience in our state of the art, 20’ x 20’ air traffic control lab. It is composed of a control tower simulator lab and a RADAR simulator lab. The ATC simulator system was purchased/installed from ADACEL company in May 2009. ADACEL has the ATC simulation contracts with both the FAA and the Department of Defense (DoD) which means we provide our students with the same simulation system that both the FAA and DoD uses to train their active Air Traffic Controllers. The program’s cutting-edge lab simulates the air traffic control tower environment, radar facilities and communication with pilots.

Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) Simulator Laboratory

In our final Jet Flying Techniques courses students are provided the opportunity to further their learning by operating in an authentic environment, while serving as an airline crew-member in our CRJ 200 Advanced Aviation Training Device, developed by Paradigm Flight Simulation. Under the mentoring of lab instructors with real world industry experience, students begin to function as industry professionals, further developing the skills, knowledge and abilities required of a professional flight crew-member. By functioning as crew members operating realistic line oriented flights in an authentic environment, students move from a novice with the knowledge and skills to be a professional flight crew member, towards an industry professional that is able to put those skills into practice, able to overcome the types of challenges professional pilots experience throughout their career. The final culminating experience for graduating Flight Science students includes a simulated airline flight where students dynamically work together as a crew to overcome numerous real world challenges.

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Laboratory

SLU’s UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) was purchased from Simlat Ltd. (Israel) in 2012 to offer overall UAS familiarization to both the piloting and payload operations functions for FAA research and potential future Aviation Science curriculum development. Additionally Simlat is configuring our C-STAR (Crew - Stand Alone Trainer) to replicate our flagship Williams Aerospace “TAURUS” UAS so that we may use the C-STAR for pre-mission exploration and preparation as well as general operational characteristics proficiency. Another significant facet of this UAS simulation asset is the potential to integrate it with Park’s other manned aviation simulators such as: Paradigm CRJ-200 Regional Jet, Adacel Air Traffic Control simulator, Precision Flight Controls Re-Configurable simulator and remote PC-based simulators so that the integration of unmanned aviation assets with manned assets can be explored in real time with multiple students.”