ARSA’s Executive Director gives insights on the Proceedings
EASA’s Ky justifies high level topics
SMS inspectors more training; More MRO details
The Journal budget does not include air fare to Cologne. That’s unfortunate,. since a little over a fortnight ago, EASA and the FAA held their 2019 International Safety Conference there.
Fortunately, the aviation mavens at ARSA do have the funds to fly there and they shared with all of aviation their views about the proceedings. Since they are so insightful, the words are being published here verbatim:
June 24, 2019
The annual aviation safety conference sponsored by EASA and the FAA was held in Cologne, Germany from June 12-14. Those who regularly attend this event are, by now, used to the high-level agenda. EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky stated that the authorities are well aware of the complaint that the conference should include more working-level (i.e., day-to-day) issues.
However, he defended the current model by noting that the higher-level topics are of greater interest to more attendees because, like Safety Management Systems (SMS), they apply to all segments of the industry. It is certainly a valid point but, in ARSA’s view, the sweet spot would result in a better balance. Nevertheless, the approximately 375 attendees from more than 40 countries were there primarily for the networking opportunities and there were many.
The agenda included sessions on Safety and the Role of Regulators in Innovation, the Challenges of Technology, Effective Oversight of SMS, State Safety Programs, Digital Transformation (i.e., use of “big data” and advanced analytic techniques), Interoperability of Aircraft Between Different Oversight Systems and Leveraging Synergies to Reduce Duplicative Certification Activities.
We all know SMS is coming; the degree will depend on how each local authority intends to implement (or not) the ICAO standard. Those entities that receive a pass from their own authorities will, in all likelihood, be required to implement an SMS as a condition for doing business internationally. (For the U.S. in particular, voluntary SMS implementation and recognition by the FAA will hopefully be adequate for international purposes.) Although it is way too soon to know how the international SMS component will play out, one thing is clear: The authorities are behind the curve in ensuring their inspector workforces have the skills required to transition from the surveillance model to a systems approach. It is widely recognized that this paradigm shift must take place for the effective implementation of SMS. Suffice it to say that we anticipate a lack of standardization in how SMS will be enforced domestically and internationally.
Although not surprising, it was disappointing that maintenance was again an afterthought. Sure, there was a panel devoted to the international collaboration efforts that produce the Maintenance Review Board Reports (MRBR), which become the basis for air operator maintenance programs. There is no direct regulatory underpinning to the MRB process although type certificate holders typically use the MRBR to show compliance with the scheduled maintenance requirements of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA).
Apparently, the representatives from the authorities, operators and manufacturers who comprise the International MRB Policy Board (IMRBPB) see little need to include independent maintenance providers, even though more than 70 percent of air carrier maintenance is contracted and a part 145 approval is required to perform maintenance in Europe.
They believe the current “three-legged stool” includes maintenance providers since the operator and authority representatives have maintenance backgrounds. ARSA’s intrepid Executive Director asked whether a four-legged stool that includes independent aircraft maintenance providers (particularly those that work for multiple airlines) would be more stable. Wouldn’t their insights be valuable in developing the MRBR?
Apparently, the fear is that this would slow down the process. However, since the policy board document is a standard developed by the Airlines for America (A4A), maintenance providers were invited to submit a request directly to that association.
One welcome development at the conference was the introduction of 15-minute flash talks strategically placed during each day to break up the monotony of the panel format. Modeled after the highly-successful TED talks, they covered Collaboration (from the perspective of the off-shore helicopter industry), the oddly-named Runway Safety, Main Killer in Aviation and Vision 2050, a peak into the Jetson’s-like future we all know is coming.
This year’s conference once again used the Slido app to field questions from attendees and tabulate responses to survey questions. The tool continues to improve yet, in our view, it should not be used exclusively since it does not allow for the same audience interaction as the “open mic.” For that reason, ARSA is not likely to use the Slido app at its annual conference (although we do worry who will fill the shoes of Howard Whyte and Werner Luehmann!).
The EASA-FAA conferences are critical for maintaining relationships between and among the aviation safety professionals. It might be interesting to stream future proceedings so the global aviation community could observe and maybe even participate via the Slido app?
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