National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt during a speech in Atlanta this week advocated for a stronger safety culture in organizations.
The aviation industry has been "doing very, very well" on safety, Sumwalt said during a luncheon talk to the Atlanta Aero Club.
The International Air Transport Association said long-term trends show "flying is getting even safer."
But, Sumwalt said, "we've still got more that needs to be done."
When CEOs say "safety is our top priority," Sumwalt said: "I get so aggravated when I hear that, because it's just worn-out rhetoric. It doesn't mean anything. Priorities come and go."
"I want safety to be a value of an organization," Sumwalt said, adding that the attitudes of employees are influenced by the actions of company leaders. "You'd be surprised how many cases we see where that failure of leadership can be traced all the way back to management, to senior management, even the board of directors."