Sir - The leader "No-gain pain" (Flight International, 16-22 October) was interesting reading.

It is important to protect the identities of those accused by confidential incident-reporting systems. Most systems make strenuous efforts to protect the identity of accusers, because otherwise the flow of information would dry up.

Not all protect the identity of the accused, creating the opportunity for abuse of the system. In Australia, a pilot who had been accused through the confidential air-incident reporting (CAIR) system tried to recover his licence, suspended following a CAIR report more than two years earlier. He is still out of work, never having been charged with any offence. He was boxing with shadows, because his accuser's identity is unknown.

Australia's regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, has the power to suspend a pilot's licence, but has no liability for wrongful suspension. It is not, therefore, inhibited about suspending a licence if the pilot is named in a CAIR report - even though the circumstances of an alleged incident may have been altered beyond recognition by the de-identification process.

It is one thing to use confidential reporting systems to detect trends and systematic safety problems, but another to use them as a tool to deprive professionals of their livelihood.

The concept of such systems is a good one, but there must be safeguards to prevent them being abused to "settle scores", and the like. The most important such safeguard is that the accused should be afforded at least as much anonymity as the accuser.


Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia

Balmain, Australia

Source: Flight International