On 26 January 2011 the European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport had invited representatives from the air transport and related sectors to discuss the challenges with view to “zero accidents” in aviation.
The conference was opened by high-level speakers from the European Commission – including European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas -, the European Parliament and the acting Hungarian EU Presidency.
Speakers included representatives from the European Aviation Safety Agency, Eurocontrol, ICAO, ENAV, the European Cockpit Association, airlines, airports and others. The conference was moderated by Zoltan Kazatsay, Deputy Director General at DG Mobility and Transport/ European Commission.
The general output was that the main challenge now is to construct an overall plan to move from building a system to acquire data to one that uses data efficiently. However, it was also agreed that safety cannot be ‘globalised’, but rather starts and should be managed at a local level. The right training was mentioned as being crucial, even more important than advanced new technologies, according to Captain Bart de Vries from KLM.
Data alone tells you nothing, you need subject matter experts, plus data must be shared with the right people and verified, Captain David Prior from easyJet said.
Nick Mower (European Regions Airline Association) stressed that EU initiatives like the Air Accident Investigation Regulation are certainly good, but that several chances have been missed however. He suggested that the EU Aircraft Register should be included in the future EC work programme.
Massimo Garbini from ENAV stated that it is not only important to collect accident data, but to understand why an incident happened and how severe it was.
Ad Rutten from the European region of Airports Council International reminded that one needs to establish “measurable” safety indicators and that, of course, safety does not go without costs. However, if you think safety is expensive, try and have an accident, he brought it to the point.
Captain Bart de Vries (Association of European Airlines) underlined that safety management systems are nothing new or miraculous. The challenge would be rather to implement a true European (management) system, based on a suitable regulatory and oversight system and oriented towards a single European sky. He pointed to the existing European Directive on Occurrence Reporting (2003/42/EC, 13.06.2003) as an example of EU legislation, but said that in this respect no analysis was done at EU level yet. Apart from more concrete action, he clearly pleaded for a more integrated approach of all EU aviation stakeholders.
Captain Gustavo J. Barba from the European Cockpit Association referred to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, saying that the root cause was a failure of management, decisions did not always comprise safety as a priority and financial pressure was immense. All these factors accumulated and finally let the accident happen, as the official US governmental report says.
John Vincent from EASA deplored that there are still a lot of barriers in the EU, due to a lack of trust in each others systems. The theoretical solutions are easy to describe, he said; the reality however looks somehow different.
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