May 19, 2009 | Dave Janney

Federal Report Criticizes Aviation-Safety Program

Here is the story:

This article underscores the fact that any initiative, no matter how good the concept, must be properly implemented, appropriate follow-up must be done, and politics must not be part of the equation.  It’s not easy to do that in big organizations or when multiple entities are involved.

The basic premise of ASAP is to find problems and fix them before something bad happens, and this is done through voluntary reporting with limited amnesty.  It is a good thought process and should work (in a perfect world).  I’m not surprised to hear that the follow-up has been lacking, but this can be acted on and improved.  What there is not much mention of is the political angle – unions play a big role in this and for this reason the process is fraught with difficulty.  Understanding that the unions are trying to protect their membership, I’ve seen firsthand how they stall the process (for years in fact), and this is unfortunate.  Hopefully the IG’s report will be the impetus for improvement, not the dismantling of what promises to be a good thing.  Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Aviation is very safe as industries go; I worked in the industry for 27 years and now travel as a customer most weeks.  It’s not perfect, and is very unforgiving, however.  We can all improve no matter which rung of the quality ladder we are currently standing on.  Hopefully the airlines, the FAA, and the unions can do a better job of working together and improve aviation safety for all of us.


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