Higher levels of aviation safety require going beyond regulatory compliance

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Flying on a commercial carrier has never been safer simply because the FAA in partnership (no partnership is not a bad word) with U.S. air carriers go beyond simply ensuring regulatory compliance. Yet, there are those who would question the effectiveness of the Air Transportation Oversight System (ATOS) and a number of voluntary safety programs administered by the FAA. Those who question the wisdom of allowing carriers to implement their own safety audits and self-correction systems lose sight of the fact that FAA audits supplement the carrier’s self-audits, to verify that the airline’s practices and procedures reflect an effective approach to system safety. Those who question the benefit of voluntary reporting programs ignore the safety benefits that result from making the operator and its employees responsible for identifying and correcting potential safety problems. It is the combination of ATOS and voluntary safety programs that make flying on a commercial carrier as safe as it is today. The next level of safety will be achieved through establishment of a positive safety culture within the air carrier organization and implementation of a Safety Management System to identify and manage risk, analyze trends, anticipate problems and correct issues before an accident occurs, not after. For safety advocates that remain skeptical, the question of the day is…What is a better alternative?

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