A new safety consultancy formed by industry veterans warns that while commercial aviation is largely compliant with safety guidelines, there are important areas of unseen risk.

The consultancy, FSC Partners, sees challenges in areas such as training standards, increased pilot workload, and non-revenue flights.

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FSC sees safety challenges in a number of areas

“We see a delta between regulatory compliance and having a fully effective and working safety management setup in a company,” says Mads Bondergaard, a veteran of Airbus and one of the company’s two founders.

During a recent discussion with FlightGlobal Bondergaard was joined by two colleagues at FSC, both of whom also spent years with Airbus: FSC co-founder Michael Edwards and safety expert Jonathan Black.

A particular challenge is the number of experienced people who left the industry during the coronavirus pandemic, taking with them the ability spot latent aviation safety risks. While complying with safety regulations is important and allows airlines to operate legally, FSC feels that adherence to regulatory standards alone does not necessarily ensure that stakeholders have a holistic view of actual risks.

Training is one area that has suffered in recent years, with many experienced training captains leaving the industry. What’s more, many pilots don’t necessarily want to serve in the training role, but rather see working as a training captain mainly as a career step.

FSC contends that the airlines are pressured to have pilots complete their training and enter operations. Unfortunately, a lack of training resources leads to pilots who are challenged with basic flying skills and who lack the resilience to deal with real world challenges. The issue gets worse as more aircraft enter fleets, placing a premium on trained crews.

The key is to get pilots to understand the reasoning behind procedures and actions, which then provides the background to work through problems.

In addition, pilot workloads are high. The exodus of experience from the industry is also placing greater pressure on those experienced pilots who remain.

On the topic of non-revenue flights, FSC sees safety issues with aircraft in transition lease between operators. The issue is particularly acute for aircraft on registries of smaller locales with little or no regulator oversight.

Such locales can reduce flight test procedures for airliners on transition lease into “something which is absolutely meaningless.”

FSC believes that taking shortcuts on test flights for aircraft in transition lease doesn’t necessarily save money, and contributes little to safety.

Moreover, sometimes such flight tests can be dangerous, operated with inexperienced pilots, and with fewer crewmembers than recommended by aircraft manufactures.

Given the large number of aircraft that regularly change hands, FSC feels this issue needs more attention.