The future of safety oversight



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).



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2 Responses to The future of safety oversight

  1. ekranoplan 3 July, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Sounds a bit like saying we can’t hold back the sea so we’ll just let it dictate the way we live on the beach.

    Tell that to the Dutch!

    There needs to be independant oversight of Flight Safety issues and we cannot expect self regulation to succeed in this area – look what became of the banking industry’s FSA in the UK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_Services_Authority

    If you pass the regulatory buck over to the users and in some cases abusers of the system then ther results will be similar to what has happened to EU flight training and demise of GA – training to the minimum required by airline customers at individual’s expense and schools max profit. Capitalism/de-regulation might be good for 15Euro Stag weekends to Prague but not for LoCo worker’s Ts&Cs.

  2. Tom 17 July, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    David,
    your are a pilot not a lawyer!
    Have a look at the oil business: Exxon Valdez,
    Deep Water Horizon and now fracking.
    If you open a gate or if you accept that you cannot control the gate…game is over! You will find the politicians who will agree to you and …

    Best practise: Let the pax wait in the a/c for hours and the lobby will decide that`s ok!

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