Affirming safety: EU Parliament on Occurrence Reporting

Finding a topic that would not divide the political spectrum is difficult, and yet the EU Parliament Transport Committee seems to have found legislation which unites all views and gathers support across political groups: the new Occurrence Reporting Regulation. The consensus over the need for a new and better framework for data and information collection about aviation safety incidents has resulted in a clear improvement of the draft regulation.

EU Occurrence Reporting

After a very solid and thorough proposal by the EU Commission, and despite the reluctance of some EU Transport Ministers, the EP Transport Committee has introduced a number of far-reaching amendments that would enhance safety in the future. On 17 September, the Transport Committee voted on Draft report by the EP rapporteur Mrs de Veyrac. The Committee Members offered firm support for a number of amendments, which will ensure that aviation safety professionals – such as pilots and air traffic controllers – are protected when reporting any mishaps or honest mistakes and that the information they provide is not misused. The continued availability of safety information – through aviation staff reporting safety occurrences – is indeed crucial to ensure a robust risk- and evidence-based aviation safety system. A lack of sufficient reporting about incidents breaks the experience feed-back loop and reduces the ability to achieve safety improvements by learning pro-actively from the past. The fear of reprisals and lack of trust at organisation level after reporting an occurrence is still very much present today in many cases and discourages aviation staff to report occurrences.

Provisions for better protection against inappropriate use of safety information and for stricter protection of the occurrence reporter, such as the ones adopted by the Transport Committee, are therefore a key ingredient to ensure the continued availability of safety information and a cornerstone for building up a ‘Just Culture’ environment in aviation.

The widespread support of the TRAN Members for Mrs de Veyrac’s consolidated report sends a very strong message to the Transport Ministers that the necessary air safety culture must be underpinned by a solid protection for pilots, air traffic controllers and all other aviation safety professionals, who work daily for safer skies in Europe and around the world.