Airlines - and also entire countries - that have an established record of poor air safety management have, in the last six months, become subject to new pressures to mend their ways.

The most important is the outcome of the extraordinary meeting held at the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Montreal headquarters in March, when directors general from 153 of ICAO's 189 contracting states agreed that, by 23 March 2008, the names of all member states that do not agree to full transparency for the results of the organisation's Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) review of their national aviation system shall be posted on the ICAO website. But to increase pressure in advance of the deadline, all those countries that are happy for their results to be published have been encouraged to do so now, and around 100 have chosen this course of action, casting a shadow over those which are delaying making their results transparent.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association will, from the end of next year, make it a condition of membership that all airlines pass the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), and the association and ICAO have agreed to exchange safety information that emerges from their respective audits. IATA already publishes IOSA results on its website.

Finally, the European Union has published a "blacklist", managed by the European Commission, of airlines that are banned from EU skies, and states from which all airlines are banned by the EU. This complements the established US Federal Aviation Administration International Aviation Safety Audit Programme published list of states whose safety oversight complies with ICAO standards and recommended practices, and of those states that do not.

This push for transparency makes it easier for travellers to check that airlines and states at least meet the basic internationally agreed safety standards.

Source: Flight International