EU misses opportunity to improve air safety

EU misses opportunity to improve air safety

The European Commission’s recently published proposal for a Regulation on air accident prevention and investigation has failed to address critical measures that would improve air safety, claims Mike Ambrose, Director General of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA).

Speaking at the European Aviation Safety Seminar in Lisbon today, Ambrose criticized the proposal for neglecting to incorporate two key issues: the criminalization of air accidents and no-penalty occurrence reporting.

“By focusing only on replacing the existing Directive on accident investigation and by failing to address at the same time the weaknesses in the existing Directive on occurrence reporting, the Commission has missed an opportunity to make genuine improvements in the prevention of accidents,” said Ambrose.  The proposal also fails to guarantee confidentiality for those reporting safety critical events. “The safety of the public will not be well served without such guarantees.  Furthermore, the growing trend towards criminalization of air accidents strongly discourages the open reporting of safety events that is necessary to maintain the ongoing improvement in air safety performance.”

ERA has submitted a Policy Statement on the proposed draft Regulation which outlines five recommendations which the Association believes will substantially increase the air safety benefits of the proposal.  In addition to the above, other recommendations include:

  * Accident investigatory agencies must be given priority over the actions of other external agencies, such as justice departments, prosecution services and police, in order to determine the cause of an accident so that lessons can be learned as quickly as possible.
  * The creation of a European Air Accident Investigation Bureau to introduce common standards of excellence across all member states.
  * The European Commission and EASA must remain separate and independent of any accident or incident investigation in order to avoid political influence.
  * Support for victims, while essential, does not improve air safety and is not an issue specific to air transport.  This issue should be addressed simultaneously across all modes of transport.

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The Policy Statement is available in full on the ERA website.