“Enhancing Safety Through Training and Experience” Michael Huerta, Minneapolis, MN

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In his speech to the RAA annual convention, Michael Huerta, the FAA Administrator Nominee, makes some cogent points about the various data programs in which the FAA, carriers and unions participate. He is spot on when he comments:

We are moving from a system of accident investigation and forensic study, to a proactive analysis of data. We want to understand what might happen so that we can make changes to address safety risks that might be out there. That’s a smarter way of doing business.

He went on to talk about SMS, ASAP and FOQA as examples of systems which rely on voluntary submission of data by pilots, mechanics and carriers. That transmission of important data translates into immediate, proactive actions that enhance safety.

All good stuff but what we continue to hear from the industry is that ASAP, VDRP and FOQA are being harmed by FAA field safety inspectors and lawyers who are converting these safety programs into enforcement discovery programs. We also hear the converse from former FAA folks who talk about industry attempts to game the system. Probably a little bit of truth from both sides.

The premise of all these self disclosure initiatives is that the information conveyed is done so without fear of enforcement action.

As stated here before (http://jdasolutions.aero/blog/?p=936, http://jdasolutions.aero/blog/?p=627), the commitment to these programs within the FAA and industry is essential to their successful use in enhancing safety. Both sides need to be honest players in this important safety game. Maybe it is time to bring both sides to the table to re-examine how voluntary disclosure is working and how it can be strengthened.

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