'Economic and cultural change poses airline safety risk'

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Global economic and cultural changes pose challenges for maintaining good airline safety performance, the Flight Safety Foundation has warned at its European Aviation Safety Seminar in Istanbul.

FSF chairman Lynn Brubaker says the world must be alert to the threats posed by change, citing the rise of powerful, fast-growing new economies and the fact that many of the former major economies with a long aviation tradition are "struggling".

This risk can be overcome, says Brubaker, but only if the aviation community is aware of it and manages it.

The FSF's president and chief executive Bill Voss points out another risk: regulators, he says, are "being starved of resources", and the airlines are going to "have to step up" to the challenge of keeping their own standards high. This is going to be particularly important, he says, in regions that do not have a long aviation tradition but which now are seeing their airline and business aviation communities growing rapidly.

Meanwhile, European Regions Airline Association president Mike Ambrose has warned delegates of the dangers inherent in the increased use by European carriers of multinational crews and contract pilots - often employed simultaneously. He says the risks involved must be carefully managed and mitigated. He also advises that pilot recurrent training should include the study of accidents.

Ambrose used the seminar to warn that airline directors and employees face a growing risk of automatic criminal prosecution following an accident, and that they therefore need to understand the full extent of their legal obligations.

The ERA, says Ambrose, has commissioned aviation legal company Gates & Partners to study the issue to provide a briefing to airline chief executives.