Pilots contribute to the EU/US safety conference

From June 14 to 16 the aviation community gathered in Vienna on the occasion of the 2011 Europe/US International Aviation Safety Conference. The general conference theme was “Enhancing Global Aviation Safety – Future Challenges”. ECA presented on three of these challenges: fatigue, training and atmospheric hazards.

As the main annual safety conference organised by EASA and the FAA, it goes without saying that the pilot’s voice has to be part of the debates. To set the scene, IFALPA was part of the key note panelists. Georg Fongern, IFALPA’s Executive Vice-President, addressed the place of the legislator in aviation safety and the need for industry to remain human-centric. ECA was on the panel of three workshops presenting our concerns on some key topics.

Gustavo Barba, ECA’s co-chairman of the FTL Working Group, gave the audience a ‘wake-up call’ in relation to fatigue management. The safety case shows that fatigue has been the probable cause to accidents and severe incidents, even though the flights have been completed within the provisions of existing regulations. So when amending the rules that govern flight times, these amendments should be dictated by a uniform science-based approach to fatigue-related risk identification and mitigation. It is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for safety agencies to provide a reduction in fatigue-related accidents and incidents.

Régis Fusenig, ECA co-chairman of the Flight Data working Group and former ECA Technical Director, spoke on two subjects. In the workshop on atmospheric hazards, he addressed the safety consequences of encountering ice crystals during cruise. Ice crystals are a meteorological phenomenon not fully understood yet. In addition the current defence systems are poor as detection by radar is difficult. Régis provided the audience with the signs and effects of ice crystal formation. Whilst waiting for new tools to inform the crew of the presence of ice crystals, the main pro-active approach to stay out of trouble is to avoid areas with potential ice crystal formation.

The second workshop where Régis presented dealt with training of aviation personnel and more specifically how to implement competence and evidence based training (CBT/EBT) as used in pilot training to other sectors. Régis highlighted that the CBT/EBT principles are indeed sound but only if all conditions for a correct implementation are present. There are pitfalls which absolutely need to be avoided or CBT/EBT will lead to the opposite of what it was designed for: degrade training instead of improve training.

All presentations will be made available on http://easa.europa.eu/conf2011/