US FAA implement new proactive safety measures

Last year more than three billion people traveled by airplane. Despite a series of tragic incidents, including the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over the Ukraine, the disappearance without trace of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and the most recent crash involving Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ850, it is hard to argue against the overall level of safety involved in flying. Research shows that in the 1970s there were 26 deaths per 10 million passengers, 11 deaths per 10 million passengers in the 1980s and 8 deaths per 10 million passengers in the 1990s. The average per year since 2000 has been 3 deaths per ten million passengers. When approached in July 2014 by 22News as to what they were currently doing about aviation safety, the FAA responded by saying:
“Travel on U.S. airlines is the safest it’s ever been. Our impressive safety record is due in part to the aviation industry and government voluntarily investing in the right safety enhancements to reduce the fatality risk in commercial air travel in the United States. The work of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), along with new aircraft, regulations, and other activities, reduced the fatality risk for commercial aviation in the United States by 83% from 1998 to 2008. The increasing number of flights requires greater emphasis on acquiring, sharing, and analyzing aviation safety data. Using incident data, CAST is examining emerging and changing risks to identify prevention strategies. We’ve moved beyond the “historic” approach of examining past accident data to a more proactive approach that focuses on detecting risk and implementing mitigation strategies before accidents or serious incidents occur. The goal over the next decade is to transition to prognostic safety analysis and to reduce the U.S. commercial fatality risk by 50% from 2010 to 2025.” The FAA has announced that they now require domestic airlines to implement proactive safety measures designed to identify risks, avoid accidents and make air travel even safer. The making of this FAA rule began four years ago and requires US airlines and freight carriers to submit, what they call a “safety management system” plan, within six months and then subsequently implement it within three. Under these new rules, airlines have to create more of a safety culture, encourage employees to report hazards and analyse operational data that may reveal safety concerns. The FAA identified 123 air accidents between 2001 to 2010 that may have been preventable if these new measures had been put in place, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta indicated, and that 96% of those affected by the rule already gather and share data. While the US FAA rule applies solely to US-based carriers, it is part of a wider effort to make changes globally that are being implemented by the ICAO.

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