David Learmount/LONDON

THE EFFECT OF culture on airline safety should be studied, to determine whether it has any significance, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) director-general Pierre Jeanniot. He says that improved incident-data collection and sharing by airlines is essential if aircraft hull-loss accident rates are to meet IATA proposals for a 50% reduction before 2004.

Speaking to the Asia/Pacific Economic Co-operation Transportation Working Group aviation seminar in Vancouver, Canada, on 16 April, Jeanniot said: "There have been suggestions, perhaps assertions, that there are cultural characteristics involved in [flight deck] human factors. I believe that it is important that this area be explored professionally in an atmosphere devoid of any emotive cultural sensitivities, so that compensating measures can be developed." Cultural differences between the pilot and co-pilot have been suggested as a fundamental cause of several fatal accidents, which have occurred in recent years.

Reducing annual hull-loss accident rates by 50% by 2004 says Jeanniot, means "removing nine or ten hulls per annum, from the crash statistics. That means saving a lot of lives, passengers and crew, every year."

He calls for airlines, governments, airports, navigation services and aircraft manufacturers "...to act together to achieve this goal". Effective safety oversight by regulatory authorities is "an essential foundation", he asserts.

Meanwhile, Jeanniot names the essential components of IATA's accident prevention programme:

improved collection, analysis and exchange of incident data;

rationalisation of databases;

establishment of voluntary, non-punitive, confidential incident reporting schemes;

increased use of digital flight-data recorders, for detecting "unsound operational practices";

significant cuts in controlled-flight-into-terrain accidents;

"mitigation of the effect of human factors" in accidents.

Source: Flight International