New Occurrence Reporting rules enhance aviation safety

It’s common sense that safety should never be brought down to only regulatory requirements. Yet, boardroom decisions and regulations are a cornerstone for safety and the latest Occurrence Reporting Regulation proposal adopted by the European Commission in December 2012 is exemplary of why such legislation is vital for aviation safety.

Before an accident occurs quite often a number of incidents and other occurrences would have already indicated the existence of a safety hazard. It is therefore crucial that the inevitable single errors, mishaps and incidents are timely reported and data is properly collected and analysed. This is precisely why the newly proposed legislation is so important for pilots and safety professionals.

One of the proposal’s centrepieces is to create a ‘Just Culture’ environment by ensuring better protection against inappropriate use of safety information and stricter protection of the occurrence reporter. The fear of prosecution and reprisals after reporting an occurrence is still very much present today. This regulation will encourage reporting and will increase our ability to pro-actively learn from the past. Improving the quality and completeness of data, also an aim of this regulation, will ultimately lead to well-informed safety recommendations.

Another key pillar of this regulation is the mandatory establishment of voluntary occurrence reporting systems at company and state level. This will facilitate the collection of data that may not be otherwise captured by the mandatory reporting system but which is perceived by the reporter as an actual or potential threat. So safety might not only come out of the boardrooms but it could most certainly move forward thanks to the decisions taken there.