David Learmount/WARSAW

The International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) safety chief has hit out at the airline industry, accusing it of having a reactive approach to safety which requires accidents to show operators when they have "-overstepped the boundaries" of acceptable practice.

Speaking at the 28-31 October, International Air Transport Association (IATA) seminar, Human Factors In Aviation in Warsaw, Poland, ICAO safety boss Dan Maurino, delivered a devastating criticism of the industry saying: "So long as we have our current reactive attitude [to flight safety], we need accidents to know when we have over-stepped the boundaries."

Maurino also attacked the culture of accident investigators who, with few exceptions, do not consider it part of their task to investigate the human-factors aspect in any depth. Until they do, Maurino says, "-we will continue to reinforce areas [of flight operations] which are already very good, and fail to deal with the weak aspects".

Incidents, defined as accidents which did not happen, are the indicators of the kind of mistakes people make in maintaining and operating aircraft, according to Airbus operational-evaluation manager Jean-Jacques Speyer, who explains: "Errors [incidents] are good. They are a way to regulate the boundaries of your actual operation."

Speyer, in a speech on Blame-free incident reporting, told the seminar that the industry needs to change its culture from the widely used punishment system to encourage voluntary reporting of errors or of design/systems, which can lead to error. Airlines need to develop a confidential-reporting infrastructure which allows the causes of the mistake to be determined without blaming the pilot, he says.

Source: Flight International