Airline does the Right Thing
Headline and text focus on NEGATIVES
Fails to mention SMS’ positive, preventative actions
There is good news in the story of a regional airline grounding a fleet of aircraft. Who knew???
How would a headline ⇒“AIRLINE IDENTIFIES PROBLEM AND TAKES IMMEDIATE REMEDIAL ACTION” ⇐ play in the mass media or even the trade press? Good aviation safety does not make good news for the 4th Estate. The below story about PSA Airlines, a wholly owned AA subsidiary, has buried the lesson of a carrier’s use of Safety Management Systems to take preventative action.
Aviation is a most visible industry and the familiarity with sitting in an airplane seat makes the average consumer and avid reader of any news. That popularity helps focus the attention of print, radio, television, and internet “journalist” on all things concerning the flying business.
The operation of aircraft is deceivingly easy to the casual observer. In reality, running an airline is complex, particularly as it pertains to aviation safety. That does not deter these “experts” from analyzing and making absolute conclusions.
This story includes the basis for a positive report—
“…the airline removed “a number” of its Bombardier regional jets from service after discovering a maintenance item that required immediate attention. “The airline voluntarily disclosed the matter to the FAA, and the agency is working with the airline to address the situation…”
Prior to SMS, a carrier possibly identifying such human error, would not make it public. Because, if the information was released, the FAA would have penalized the “miscreant” millions of civil penalties. The publicity would scare passengers for months or longer—probably a greater sanction than the fine. To avoid all of that opprobrium, an airline executive would be tempted to make the repairs one-by-one until all the ADs had been met.
Under SMS, PSA and AA made the following public pronouncements:
Immediate resolution of a safety risk is one clear benefit of SMS, but the greater value is the scrutiny of WHY this inadvertent error occurred—failure in some computer system designed to monitor ADs, inaccurate copying of ADs to work cards, inadequate parts/training…
PSA has an effective SMS program and culture; this example shows that the system worked, that it was trusted by the PSA’s organization from top to bottom and that it achieved the program’s goals- safety, preventive action, openness and learning from mistakes
It is disappointing that the reporters fail to note these important safety gains in this case and from SMS in general. Perhaps, it is that the intricacies value of this state-of-the art risk reduction discipline are not well known to these professionals.
– January 28, 2021, 3:48 PM
American Airlines regional subsidiary PSA Airlines on Thursday grounded “most of its fleet” to complete what it called on its Twitter feed “a standard inspection.” The grounding involves its 130 Bombardier CRJ700s and CRJ900s, all of which became the subject of an FAA order to inspect the airplanes’ nose gear doors.
An American Airlines spokesperson confirmed to AIN that PSA grounded the fleet “out of an abundance of caution.”
“We are working with PSA and the FAA to immediately address the issue,” said the airline. “We are working with our customers to arrange new accommodations on other flights and we are working to return the impacted aircraft to service.”
In a separate statement, the FAA told AIN that the airline removed “a number” of its Bombardier regional jets from service after discovering a maintenance item that required immediate attention. “The airline voluntarily disclosed the matter to the FAA, and the agency is working with the airline to address the situation,” said the statement. It did not specify the suspected problem with the nose gear doors.
Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, PSA operates as an American Eagle partner to more than 90 destinations from its hub in Charlotte and focus cities of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
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