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ERA: No penalty incident reporting essential for air safety

No employee in a safety related activity – pilots, cabin crew, maintenance personnel, air traffic control officers (ATCOs) or any…

No employee in a safety related activity – pilots, cabin crew, maintenance personnel, air traffic control officers (ATCOs) or any other employee group – should fear risk of punishment, job loss or imprisonment if they honestly report an occurrence adversely affecting air safety. The European Commission`s Proposed Directive on Occurrence Reporting in Civil Aviation is a welcome attempt to introduce this culture through regulation. However, the Council of Transport Ministers has removed two vital clauses relating to no penalty reporting and the assurance of confidentiality, which now severely reduces the value of the Directive.



This was the message from Mike Ambrose, Director General, European Regions Airline Association (ERA<.>) at High Level meeting on Safety in Aviation, in Brussels. The meeting, which was also attended by AEA, ACI, IATA, IFATCA, CANSO, ECA and ETF, was instigated by the European Commission`s Industry & Social Group (ISG), following July`s mid-air collision in Swiss airspace.



There is no underlying weakness or cause for concern regarding air safety in Europe, declared Ambrose. In 2001, there were less than 400 air deaths worldwide (excluding terrorist action), compared to 16,228 road deaths in Eastern EU states, and 31,877 road deaths in Western EU states. The most recent figures from the European Union Energy and Transport records 7 rail deaths and 1400 road deaths for every one air death in EU states.



Ambrose went on to say that the achievement of high safety standards is no reason for complacency, and that safety is a top priority for ERA. Back in 1998 the Board of ERA adopted the no penalty reporting policy and recommended its use to all member airlines.



The purpose is not to apportion blame or liability, but to establish facts and causes thereby preventing further occurrence, explained Ambrose. ERA`s intervention in the Eurocontrol Performance Review Commission has led to the adoption of the same policy for Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs).



The Proposed Directive on Occurrence Reporting in Civil Aviation is an excellent document confirmed Ambrose. Regrettably, the Council of Transport Ministers has removed two of the most essential articles. These articles ensure the nonpunishment of those reporting safety incidents (except in cases of gross negligence), and the protection of their identity. They also protect against the misuse of the data reported he continued.



If these articles are not reinstated, the Directive will fail to achieve its aims. Furthermore, anyone supporting their withdrawal will bear personally some of the responsibility for any deaths or injuries that could otherwise have been avoided Ambrose concluded.



ERA and all of the other stakeholders will continue to lobby for the reinstating of these articles.

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