FAA Category 2 Communications will benefit from Subject Matter Experts; even better, Initiate your own Best Practice, Independent Audit

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Press Release – FAA Announces Revised Safety Rating for India


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The FAA press release has generated a very large number of domestic and international press reports, all of which must be most embarrassing to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the Government of India. Such criticism might be avoided if the nature of the government-to-government dialogue as well as the communication between the DGCA and its legislative branch is examined analytically. Understanding what is really being said may need outside consultants.

Sovereigns speak to other sovereigns in the polite etiquette of diplomacy. There are euphemisms, which have been refined over centuries to convey meanings without insulting an equal. Civil servants, who work in technical areas, have not developed such a vocabulary, but their international advisers encourage their subject matters experts not to use the blunt lexicon of their professions. For example, engineers tend to speak in black and white words; their analysis seeks to reduce the grays. Equally so, the technical persons who are receiving such messages typically have not developed their ears for hearing subtly phrases negative feedback. In contrast, diplomats speak in the hues between the antipodes as well as carefully listen for such shades of gray.

The above description attempts to define in non-judgmental terms the communications between an FAA IASA team and their foreign counterparts.

Consider the sensitivity of the ensuing conversation in which a foreign civil servant attempts to convey what (s)he has heard from the FAA to the elected official(s). In discussing what was heard to a person who authorizes the CAA and legislates its budget, the executive will not express the direst possible reading of the FAA communique. If the most negative spin is delivered, the executive’s resume should be current.

It appears that for these reasons, the DGCA of India has endured a multiple iterative process ending in its FAA status being downgraded.

To quote Cool Hand Luke:

“What we have is a failure to communicate”

Perhaps, the FAA’s earlier communication of the various problems found in the IASA was not completely understood, for the above reasons. It is also possible that the Parliament did not fully comprehend the significance of the FAA’s previously identified issues.

These nuances might have been heard if the DGCA’s outside team included knowledgeable folks who understand the jargon of the US auditors. The use of a third party might have facilitated the delivery of the bad news to the Members of Parliament. Actually the best use of outside consultants is to involve such a cadre of people, who have completed similar audits and commission them to reproduce the IASA review BEFORE the FAA arrives. Such preventative action avoids the stigma of another sovereign lecturing your government. PLUS the results are not solely cast as deficiencies compared to another country’s standards, but are based on best practices.

Such an independent, third party “best practice” assessment puts the CAA’s next step in a proactive, positive context. That’s a much better political and PR message.

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