IATA warning on air accident investigations

Greater cooperation to establish global standards for air accident investigations are urgently needed, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO has warned.

Speaking at the IATA Safety and Flight Operations Conference in Seoul, Republic of Korea, de Juniac said that while global standards exist they are not being applied universally.

“A recent study showed that of the approximately 1,000 accidents over the last decade, accident reports were available for only around 300 of them. And of those, many had room for improvement. To learn from an accident, we need reports that are complete, accessible and timely. We also need states to fully respect the standards and processes enshrined in global agreements for participation in the investigation by all specified parties.”

De Juniac also called for increased dialogue between regulators and industry to ensure that industry experience and know-how is incorporated into new regulations and standards.

“We have a common interest in safe and secure flights. Yet last month the US and the UK announced that large electronic devices would be banned from passenger cabins on some flights from the Middle East and North Africa. There was no consultation with airlines and the measure challenged public confidence with inconsistencies, while the safety concerns over concentrations of lithium batteries in the aircraft hold have not been adequately considered or addressed. The learnings from this are many—governments need to share information, they need to consult with industry, and they need to support the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as it develops a global aviation security plan.”

Turning to the use of data to improve safety, de Juniac urged speed and innovation.

“The data generated from the 100,000 safe flights each day can help us understand where the next threat or challenge may arise. We need to move ahead in this area with speed. The IATA Global Aviation Data Management program is vital to our future. It includes data from more than 470 organizations. Information provided through IATA’s Flight Data eXchange program, a component of GADM, already is helping to identify potential hazards through the analysis of de-identified aircraft flight recorder data.”

Another area where more data is needed involves the use of drones around airports and their potential hazard to aviation.

“The great majority of drone owners operate their devices responsibly, but it is also the case that the number of incidents is rising. There is significant work being developed at ICAO to produce standards for the larger drones that are equipped to share the airspace with manned aircraft. However, we need to ensure that the smaller drones, whether intended for recreational or commercial use, are kept out of airspace used for approach and landing operations of air transport.

“A framework of data, dialogue among all stakeholders and global standards will help to ensure that we are able to take advantage of the great opportunities presented by drones, with no degradation in system safety or efficiency,” said de Juniac.

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