IATA says “Inconsistent surveillance and competence among CAAs”
ICAO, FAA and EASA “audits” find faults
Single, consultative assistance might enhance CAA competence
IATA’s director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, speaking in Miami articulated a significant global aviation concern. The above quote, written in understatement mandated by the diplomatic code, pointed out that all civil aviation authorities are not equal in their competence. ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) knows this (one example) , the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program has confirmed this (one example)
and EASA’s audits have found deficiencies. Now the Director General of the airlines regulated by these CAAs has made it clear that there is an urgent need to assist the developing countries.
Clearly the “triplication” of audits has not had the desired improvement in CAAs’ performance of their safety surveillance. In fact, a case can be made that repeated visits by aviation safety auditors from 2 other Sovereigns and a UN body consume considerable Transavialand CAA staff time, detract from getting essential duties completed and frankly are insulting.
. Consider that you are the Director General of a CAA for hypothetical “Transavialand” and you are a 20 year veteran at the authority. Each visiting expert has his or her “emPHAsis” as to what are the important criteria on the checklist. The Transavialand CAA hears a list of inadequacies at the end of each audit, but probably does not have the resources or technical competence or legal authority to meet the criticism. End result—little or no change and the Director once again bears the burden of this critique.
The answer to Mr. de Juniac’s critique is not likely to be addressed by these three audits.
Here is a possible, practical alternative:
Global aviation safety is an important consideration in an economy which knows no borders. The International Civil Aviation Organization has at its primary function, the review of each of the world’s civil aviation authorities. It has a team of auditors who employ rigorous standards, the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program, to assess the competence of each sovereign’s civil aviation organization.
That UN agency perform these inspections of its Members and the Montreal body is governed by all of the nations. The lowest common denominator of these civil aviation authorities is not at the high end; consequently, ICAO is reluctant to downgrade marginal CAA’s.
The FAA’s IASA and an equivalent audit by EASA triplicate the basic determination of ICAO, perhaps with a little less reluctance to issue a failing grade. A recent grant by the FAA of Category I status raised the possibility that even its objectivity could be bent. So even their reviews may be flawed.
Perhaps, the solution is to create a 3rd party independent organization to replace the three reviews with one on behalf of all three. Maybe the Flight Safety Foundation or an aviation safety auditing organization can be designated to do the work instead. A single auditor would more likely to utilize consistent standards, to be able to spend more time with the DGCAs, to provide more follow-up and even to instill “best practices”.
This new approach might be denominated the “Aviation Safety Enhancement Consultant Team” (ASECT). In that it could be a private institution, CAAs being visited by this ASECT might not be as offended as with the visit; because the individuals visiting their offices are “consultants” and not their intergovernmental equivalents.
The three current auditing organizations might jointly fund this ASECT and could even embed some of their staff experts on these teams. Most importantly, the mission of these visits is not to find faults, but to help enhance existing statutes, regulations, practices, training, procedures, SMS implementation and the like. The ASECT model would allow for the team to become more familiar with local constraints and defining conditions. The time spent with the Transavialand staff would benefit by this consulting relationship.
The end result of an ASECT assignment would either result in a finding that the CAA meets the ICAO standards or that there are specific shortfalls which require identified solutions and until then the CAA does not meet the standards.
ASECT has commonalities with ICAO’s GLOBAL AVIATION SAFETY PLAN (GASP) so the transition from three independent audits to one more proactive consulting process should not be difficult. As with all international changes it will take time, but it offers a far more effective route to raising the standards of CAAs’ competence and thereby improving aviation safety.
Mr. de Juniac, you have well defined the problem, might ASECT be the solution?
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