FAA’s Compliance Philosophy In Effect With Allegiant
Well over a year ago, the FAA made a seismic change in its basic regulatory regime. Since the creation of the FAA, the safety agency used the fear of sanctions and public embarrassment to compel the airlines to adhere to its rules. The Administrator last summer established a new path emphasizing collaboration, cooperation, compliance and immediate solutions to existing problems. There was some reason to doubt whether the field inspectors and lawyers would follow this pronouncement from on high. The institutional imperatives (diminishing Congressional funding, inability to match old enforcement techniques with staffing reality, SMS’s emphasis on trust in working together) compelled that the new philosophy must work.
During that same time period, the long history of a contentious relationship with Allegiant made the resolution of pending “enforcement” cases into a test of the acceptance of the Huerta approach. There have been a number of statements which did not appear to be in congruence with the SMS/Compliance approach.
On July 18 the news included language suggesting that the FAA personnel involved in the surveillance of Allegiant are on board with the new approach:
“An FAA spokesman said the evaluation, which every airline must undergo every five years, uncovered ‘a number’ of deficiencies. ‘None were systemic regulatory problems, which are the most serious category of deficiencies identified in these types of reviews.’ He said the FAA will ‘closely monitor’ the effectiveness of Allegiant’s mitigations, which are due by Sept. 30.
The FAA has determined that the findings don’t warrant enforcement action at this time.”
That’s the language of the new Philosophy; cooperation and compliance, not the ticket-writing jargon of the past.
While that’s a clear positive movement towards the Huerta approach, the next critical inspection point will be the follow up by Allegiant no later than September 30 when it will be determined if the carrier aggressively addresses the agency’s finding PLUS soon thereafter when the FAA replies.