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Aviation Industry Intensifies Safety Regime

July 25, 2003

Aviation Industry Intensifies Safety Regime

Key players in the New Zealand aviation sector have today announced an agreement to work together to markedly reduce General Aviation (GA) industry accidents.

The President of the Aviation Industry Association (AIA) John Funnell, Director of Civil Aviation for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Captain John Jones and Chief Executive Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) Garry Wilson, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate and coordinate efforts in a five year campaign directed towards those involved in operating and servicing GA aircraft.

The target is a 25% reduction in the accident rate in the sector.

President of AIA and one of New Zealand’s most experienced GA pilots, John Funnell said “New Zealand has an excellent safety record internationally with its airlines but performance of the GA sector was only in the mid range - there is definitely room for improvement”.

Mr Funnell said the mere fact that the three parties had agreed to work together would send a message to the sector how seriously they regard the need for improvement.

The general aviation sector includes smaller aircraft (nine seats or less, revenue earning passenger and freight, agriculture and private), helicopters, associated industry organisations such as aero clubs, pilot-training operations, other recreational aircraft (including micro lights and gliders) and parachutists. The three signatories have agreed to increase coordination between each individual organisation to ensure focus on all aspects of risk management within general aviation. The underlying principles of the campaign – which is targeting all levels of experience and skill – are better risk assessment, accountability and care.

The new initiative will be branded Aircare – Double Check, implying that every conceivable element of flying an aircraft is “double checked” for risk from the work of ground staff, management, to cockpit decision-making. The brand will encapsulate the values of the project and promote the enhanced safety performance level being sought.

Individually, each organisation within the Group has implemented a series of its own safety initiatives that will continue but now coordinated under the overall Aircare brand.

In the past two years, AIA has undertaken a range of activities intended to highlight the importance of risk assessment in the GA sector. It identified the most prevalent causative sequences of accidents through analysis of accident and incident data. The CAA hosted national safety forums that indicated improvements in “safety culture” were needed which should start at the entry level to flying and the GA service sector.

The Civil Aviation Authority has cited three core safety strategies arising from its safety forums including improved and consistent delivery of statutory functions, informed identification and implementation of solutions to significant aviation problems, and the introduction of specific safety change initiatives.

Mr Funnell said ACC’s success in achieving changes in safety culture in a wide range of industries would greatly assist the project especially their experience in reaching out to people in isolated environments.

The Group believes the initiative will encourage and cement a visible commitment to the common objective of a 25% reduction in GA accidents as well as aligning the various activities undertaken by the individual members. It sees the pooling of vital safety information, greater consultation within the GA sector and also cooperation with Australian, US, Canadian and British counterparts as key tactics to meeting the objective.

“Probably the biggest hurdle we face is getting the message out to everyone who has anything to do with an aircraft that their actions are vital to safety. Accident investigations consistently show that there are multiple contributory causes. Everyone has to adopt the “double check” approach. Any risk that is not fully assessed for its consequences, is unacceptable,” said Mr Funnell.

He believes the more coordinated approach and umbrella branding will be a huge help in meeting the 25% reduction objective and an ever present reminder that “double check” means just that - “we need to admit to ourselves that we are not doing enough in terms of risk assessment and the results to date are highly visible in the incident reports. It’s the key to getting our GA record up there with the best performers overseas.”


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