Trade Association to help in audit of airlines
To avoid duplication
International Aviation Safety Systems is replicated
“A KEY OBJECTIVE IS TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF DUPLICATE AUDITS FOREIGN CARRIERS NEED TO UNDERGO WHEN THEY OPERATE TO OR FROM SINGAPORE, while still maintaining a high level of safety oversight through adherence to global standards and recommended practices,” said Blair Cowles, IATA’s Regional Director for Safety and Flight Operations, Asia-Pacific.
Singapore is the third country in Asia-Pacific to use IOSA as part of its safety oversight of carriers. In June 2018, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority signed an MoU with IATA to expand the use of IOSA audit information for oversight of Australian registered airlines in addition to foreign carriers operating to, from and within Australia. While in December 2018, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand agreed with IATA to incorporate IOSA in Thailand’s safety oversight framework of foreign carriers.
Safety thrives on redundant systems, but there appears to be a greater devotion of resources in dealing with the competency of airlines and civil aviation authorities.
- ICAO’s USOAP and the FAA’s IASA both periodically audit the CAAs of other sovereigns. EASA has an extensive network of agreements with other CAAs (Management Board Observer, Working Arrangement Documents, Bilateral Agreement Documents, Technical Cooperation Activity, EASA Representative Office and Memoranda of Understanding).
The FAA’s reviews, driven by Congressional “help”, looks only at the governments’ competence. Though apolitical, these assessments have had some variance over time.
The point of these audits is to determine whether the CAA has adequate resources, exacting standards, statutory basis, etc. to assure that the airlines, manufacturers, repair stations, pilots, mechanics, airports, air traffic control system and associated authorities meet international standards. In essence, these are surrogate findings that the country’s airlines and other certificate holders are safe.
- IATA’s IOSA, EU’s TCO and its EU Air Safety List , the FAA’s Part 129 and almost every CAA carefully assess the safety standards of airlines seeking to fly to their respective countries. Some periodically review the airlines’ compliance.
Though these organizations utilize the same generic standards, there are anomalies between and among their judgments, including instances in which one audit found the airline so deficient as to be banned and the other found to be adequate.
Reversing the perspective to the CAAs and airlines to be audited, the repeated visits by personnel, whose job is to judge their competence, are regarded both as
- a professional affront (many of those being examined have greater experience than their “examiners”)
- an undue burden (staff are dedicated to respond to the visitors, to provide supporting documentation and frequently to justify their historic practices).
It is human nature to expect that these audits are hard for CAA officials to be accepted as teachable moments.
The negative reports may or may not be clear in their critiques. The auditors may be reluctant to call out a practice or individual/position deficiency. The CAA knows that it has problems, but does not always receive enough specificity to be an actionable document. One of these sovereign-to-sovereign “judges” explained that their foreign service advisers instructed that the report be written “more diplomatically.”
Many of these aviation safety organizations have responsibilities beyond their reaches. The presence of foreigners requiring attention detracts from their real work.
This is the first instance in which one of the auditing organizations has recognized that there may be undue replication of essentially the same examination. Inspired by this statement, here are some thoughts (repeated; sorry) that hopefully bear repetition:
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.
Past variations on the same theme and examples of the need to a consolidated approach:
 The IOSA audit is a predicate to membership in this trade association