Aviation must not compete on safety

world aviation safety summit
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Aviation Safety Competition

Cooperation among countries & airlines is vital to the future of this business

There is very little debate that the airlines compete fiercely on prices, routes and services. The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation (1944) clearly articulated the following premise for global aviation safety:

“WHEREAS the future development of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world, yet its abuse can become a threat to the general security; and

WHEREAS it is desirable to avoid friction and to promote that co-operation between nations and peoples upon which the peace of the world depends;

THEREFORE, the undersigned governments having agreed on certain principles and arrangements in order that international civil aviation may be developed in a safe and orderly manner and that international air transport services may be established on the basis of equality of opportunity and operated soundly and economically;

Have accordingly concluded this Convention to that end.”

In that context, the following quote is disappointing:

Delegates and attendees of the fifth annual World Aviation Safety Summit (WASS) discussed that aviation safety should not be threatened by commercial or political interference, such as the recent US and UK electronics bans that have caused controversy throughout the sector.

The article further explains how some of the attendees perceive the ban on carriage by passengers of their PEDs. Under conventional wisdom, such perceptions constitute a degree of reality.

The Chicago Convention stands for the principle that cooperation among countries and airlines on safety is vital to the future of this business.

airline Aviation Safety Competition

This aphorism is supported by the practical consequences of failing to share aviation safety advances:

  • Aviation Safety Competition If any advance in safety creates an economic benefit to Carrier A or Country 1, the value of sharing that new idea exceeds any short-term advantage.
  • Any accident detracts from the populace’s trust of all aviation.
  • Modern aircraft fleets are composed of hulls and parts which may have been on another carrier’s Ops Specs; withholding of a bettAviation Safety Competitioner safety practice ultimately may harm the hypothetical Carrier A or Country 1.
  • Big data, a new safety system of which ICAO has been a major proponent, holds great promise for lowering risks, but depends heavily on the quality of the numbers collected. Comparability of operations is another element of the value of data.
  • Any airline executive or CAA leader would deeply regret the withholding of such a safety improvement when a probable cause for an accident might have been averted if the improvement would have been widely disseminated. 

When an international safety summit includes a comment suggesting that cooperation has been violated, it is time to recommit to the principles established by the Chicago Convention. Distrust among nations and among airlines will harm the future of aviation safety. We, collectively, fly the same planes, carry the same passengers and operate over the same routes. Sharing and cooperation are essential to this highly connected industry. Compete on economics; collaborate on safety.


WASS 2017: Aviation safety not influenced by commercial agendas
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