The EASA Opinion looks to the future of aviation safety

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  • August 28, 2015

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently published a set of proposals, presented as the ‘EASA Opinion’, to update the EASA Basic Regulations current policy on managing aviation safety.

Approximately 6,000 members of the aviation community contributed to the European Commission’s consultation over the course of 6 months. The aim to identify current issues and areas of improvement and to discuss new ideas and proposals for the course of action to be taken.

The Opinion represents the response of the aviation community to the changing environment and growing need for a more efficient and flexible way to managing aviation oversight.

Due to the increasing complexity of aviation system demands, the aviation community has recognised that the traditional prescriptive rules may not be enough to guarantee safety alone. There was a recommendation that a Performance Based Environment, would be the desired next step to further improve the industry’s safety record.

A Performance Based Environment (PBE) sets goals for desired outcomes against which Safety Performance Indicators (SPIs) are used to measure effectiveness. SPIs must be supported by the collection and analysis of data. Data-driven decision making supports solutions with solid evidence.

During the consultation it was recognised that In order for a PBE to be effective the implementation of a harmonized Safety Management System (SMS) along with applicable SPIs, developed in close coordination of regulatory standards is important to identify and measure the risks and performance. Regulatory and oversight bodies need an effective and organised system for collecting, analysing and managing safety information. Furthermore, adequate training and resources need to be invested in the Competent Authorities to build professional competency judgement necessary for the successful understanding between industry and regulators.

The outcome of the discussions was a gradual introduction of PBE to compliment and replace the prescriptive rules through adaption of the Basic Regulation wording to support performance-based rules and oversight. The addition of an obligation for Member states to implement State Safety Program (SSP) along with the concept of a European Aviation Safety Programme (EASAP)

Further discussion on the development and activity of an EASAp concluded the importance of transparency, consultation and involvement of EASA stakeholders (National Aviation Authorities, NAAs & National Supervisory Authorities, NSAs). Activity should be ‘evidence based and rely upon safety data analysis.’

On the topic of training the importance of high-quality, accessible training was viewed as paramount, with EASA playing a key role in ensuring this. The EASA envisages its Virtual Academy, to offer high quality training especially to NAA staff with a view to apply an equivalent approach to other qualified staff under a ‘quality label in close cooperation with the Member States and the Industry.’

A significant change to the Basic Regulation is the proposal to include Ground Handling Service Provides (GHSPs) under the regulation as a legal and enforceable obligation. Whilst there is efficiency industry standard measurement under the International Air Transport Association (IATA) there are no safety rules at a European level to cover these providers. The stakeholders were in agreement to see the benefits of addressing GHSPs obligations under the scope of the Basic Regulation.

As aviation systems become increasingly more complex alongside an expected increase in air traffic over the coming years, the evolution of safety management becomes paramount. The proposals set out by the Opinion have recognised and addressed these current and future challenges facing the aviation system through the contributions by the aviation community. The concern that remains however is the availability of resources and investment in order to effectively manage the collection, analysis and protection of safety performance information in the evolution of a Performance Based Oversight Environment.

The ELMS Application supports the evolution of a PBE by providing a centralised system whereby qualified staff can upload and display aviation training and qualifications which are validated by authorised staff to determine competency. The detailed reporting system provides clear accountability and data driven evidence of recency and skills based competency. The data is available for analysis by supervisors and government bodies supporting transparency. ELMS Aviation will be regulated by an independent advisory board along with oversight from the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that the application meets all the regulatory requirements.

By creating a paper-free, secure centralised database available globally ELMS Aviation aims to reduce the strain on resources and create a harmonized safety management system.

Alongside this platform, ELMS Horizon will offer additional and further training regulated by industry bodies to ensure a standardised level of quality.

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