CHC Summit Banner 2018  


TOPS cover

Katherine Hilst Ushers in New Era for organization with Safety Risk Management Agenda

Tour Operators Program of Safety (TOPS) announced last week in a press release that Katherine Hilst had joined the organization as executive director, bringing nearly 30 years in the aviation industry.

Tour Operators Safety Program (TOPS) new Executive Director Katherine Hilst. Photo supplied by TOPS.
Tour Operators Safety Program (TOPS) new Executive Director Katherine Hilst. Photo supplied by TOPS.

Hilst has set goals to further refine the way in which the organization and its members apply safety risk management principles. This will include bringing together expertise from authorities and industry stakeholders that will continue to develop the TOPS audit and safety tools with regard to a data-driven approach to managing safety. These efforts are designed to ensure continued vigilance and improve safety for today and into the future.

“Katherine comes to us with an incomparable breadth of aviation experience as a pilot, aviation attorney, safety manager, consultant and auditor. The entire TOPS board of directors is thrilled knowing the organization is in capable hands,” said Craig Jennison, chairman of the Tour Operators Safety Program initiative.

Hilst holds ratings as a certified flight instructor and CFII in fixed wing along with commercial fixed-wing and helicopter ratings. Katherine also holds two bachelor degrees, a Master of Aeronautical System Safety from Embry Riddle University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Washington where she is a member of the Washington State Bar Association.

“Katherine has been a long-respected associate of TOPS and an enduring advocate for best practices in tour safety protocols. I look forward to seeing where Katherine’s vision for TOPS takes the organization and its members.” said John Becker,  a board member of the TOPS organization.

The Tour operators Program of Safety was founded in 1993 with a mission to provide the public with access to scenic areas while in the care of good, safe and professional air tour operators. Operators who carry a TOPS certification have agreed to operate their airlines to standards that far exceed those set forth by the FAA. These standards are upheld and enforced by regular internal audits and annual external audits by independent industrial safety auditors. Organization members include tour operators from Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, New York and California. For more information about the Tour Operators Safety Program, go to

Like this article? Sign up for your free copy of Heliweb Magazine by clicking here.

Sign up now!

Fill out the form below to receive your free monthly copy of the magazine the helicopter industry is talking about.

Email address
First Name
Last Name
Full Address ( We will never sell your details)
Postal Code/Zip Code
avpro 928x90