At the EASA/FAA annual conference last week, in Paris, I was moderating the final plenary session, which is about summing up what has been debated over the previous two days.
A great deal of the debate had been about regulatory resources, and how regulators will meet their safety oversight obligations in the future as the industry grows inexorably.
After EASA executive director Patrick Goudou and FAA associate Administrator for aviation safety John Hickey had completed their summing up, I announced that before handing back my status as session moderator I was going to exercise my droit de seigneur by providing the regulators of the future with some advice.
I know this is rather cheeky, but what the hell.
This was it:
“The industry you are regulating is growing at a rate you cannot deal with usingexisting methods. You do not have the resources and you will not get them.
“ Technologyis advancing at a rate you cannot keep up with using current regulatoryphilosophies...
“…soyou can’t do things the way you do now. You will have to evolve constantlyto keep up with what technology can do.
“Workingwith industry has always been a part of how regulators operate. In future,maybe that should be all you do.
“Opsregulation in the future could be a system for identifying best practice andspreading the word. That would ensure safety evolved in step with capability.
“Itis more effective, and far cheaper to persuade companies that theirinterest lies in exceeding compliance standards than to threaten them withsanctions if they don’t comply.
“BUT- the ultimate regulatory sanction is national law. If recognised industry bestpractice were used to define future required standards, the ultimate sanctionfor corporate failure to achieve defined standards would be the application of criminal law” (where negligence or willful non-compliance isinvolved).