Aviation Safety - Always the Top Priority!

As its International Civil Aviation Day, on 7th Dec. 2006, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will debate the Organization's motto for 2007: "Safety and Security - First and always the top priority".

See:

ECA Proposal for European Aviation Safety Programme

See: ECA Proposal for European Aviation Safety Programme (PDF)

A snaphot of the current situation in Europe

When the historic approach of strict regulation was abandoned and the aviation system liberalised, the ICAO SARPs did not give enough guidance to maintain a coherent system. A number of States and regional institutions worked hard to achieve high standards. Although the system now is not very well structured, it still has delivered a safe aviation system – but not the safest one in the world. It is held together by some nations who show strong leadership and commitment, while others are clearly lagging behind. There are overlaps and also some loopholes in the approach to manage safety. And this system is not cost effective!

ECA proposal

Changes to the current system are proposed to enable it to deliver the capacity and efficiency needed for future growth of the European aviation industry. The Commission last year has identified a need to improve safety and has set an ambitious target: to improve safety by a factor of 10. This can only be achieved with a clearly organized and streamlined system like the one depicted on the diagram. It is the system that the global aviation industry has inspired and developed jointly with ICAO. It can be found in the Global Aviation Safety Roadmap.

A European Safety Programme would basically have three layers: on top there is the responsibility for setting the targets and the policy as well as for ensuring a continuous safety improvement process. Below that, there are the Regulations, which also determine how the regulatory institutions exercise their duties. At the base there are the different operators that will implement the details of the Safety Programme. Here is where the Front End Experts create Safety every day.

The Member States are involved on all levels, from leadership exercised through the Council and Commission, through participation on the regulation and implementation levels, to auditing in the continuous safety improvement process. The Continuous Safety Improvement circle ensures that the experience gained at the base is fed back into the regulations and implemented.

Although everybody will agree that this framework is the way to success, it is a difficult process to go from the current, unstructured situation to the well structured and efficient future system. This will not be achieved without a great amount of Change Management.

Safety Quotes:

"Top Management is responsible for Safety" ... "Every accident, no matter how minor, is a failure of the organization."

—Jerome Lederer, 1991

"Management decisions and actions, or more frequently, indecisions and inactions, cause accidents."

—John Lauber, chairman NTSB, 1993

"Minimal compliance with aviation regulations means a minimal operation; not necessarily a safe one. The process of developing internal operating standards is an important one and is the real basis for the aviation safety program."

—R.H. Wood, 1976

"Safety is economical" ... "Safety Management is actually a method of controlling costs."

—R.H. Wood, 1976