One of the most recurrent messages I hear from pilots (and not only pilots) is “Why would I report this if nothing will ever change?”
The disappointment and frustration with some of the reporting channels that exists in Europe is striking. Pilots don’t feel confident and comfortable to report issues such as fatigue. And this despite the fact that Europe has pioneered the Just Culture concept and has created both mandatory and voluntary reporting channels. The Just Culture principle is even included in some of the aviation regulations existing today (see our campaign “Reporting matters!”). This is also the case for the “EU Whistleblower Directive”, aimed at helping those who want to voice concerns.
Yet, the lack of feedback or concrete action from authorities discourages many to bring up issues that might cost them their job or worse – their entire career. Sooner or later however, the existing problems surface.
Reporting is not a waste of time
Last summer we saw one of the worst examples of this with the case of Wizz Air. The toxic environment at this airline was exposed in all its magnitude when listening one of the managers telling how they should get rid of the “bad apples” – pilots who would not fly while sick, not fly extra hours when on their days off, or not use Commander’s Discretion – under the excuse of the COVID-19.
We believe that reporting is not a waste of time. Airlines and national authorities have occurrence reporting channels, and EASA has a system in place to enable aviation professionals to voluntarily and confidentially report their broader safety concerns. We also believe that pilots are best placed to report certain types of their safety concerns and observations through this EASA channel. The Agency is then required to take action for each report – and does so in a confidential, protected way.
Will something change immediately after one report is very difficult to predict. It is however sure that nothing will change without this information being passed on to the regulator or the oversight authority. Nevertheless, I realise, there is still a long way to go before authorities see the true value of those reports and crew no longer hesitate to file them.
ECA is determined to work with EASA on streamlining the reporting process and making it more accessible and understandable for crew. But you don’t have to wait.
If you are reading this and you feel that something may affect safety in any way, contact your national authorities, EASA, your home association or even ECA directly.
You are not alone.
by Juan Carlos Lozano, ECA Vice-President
Airbus A320 Captain Iberia