The aviation industry must avoid compromises on safety at a time when the number of fatal accidents in commercial aviation is decreasing: this is the message that industry experts wanted to give to EASA’s annual air transport safety conference held in Helsinki on 4 and 5 November.
While security is widely recognized as the top priority for the aviation industry, commercial pressures can present a challenge in this area.
According to Pekka Henttu, director general for civil aviation at the Finnish agency Traficom and co-host of the two-day Helsinki, security compromises run the risk of losing the confidence of the general public.
“Aviation must find a good balance between safety, protection, environmental sustainability and business.”
The speakers of the conference “Operational safety of airlines: a vision for the future” have repeatedly warned that the strong growth in the aviation sector planned for the coming years has led to the need to do more to maintain high safety standards.
Topi Manner, CEO of Finnair, said: “Aviation is a growing industry. If the number of planes and flights will double in the next decade, maintaining the current fatal accident rate would mean a significant increase in casualties. This is not acceptable. We must continue to improve safety. “
“People want to fly at competitive prices and want to fly safely,” said Joachim Luecking, head of the Air Safety unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, who pointed out that environmental issues are also extremely important.
The executive director of EASA, Patrick Ky, pointed to technological development as a way to increase security, citing various old technologies still in use in the aviation industry, such as the continuous use of radio frequencies for communication with air traffic controllers.
The conference also dealt with the theme of winter operations, emphasizing the importance of preparation, including staff training. Climate change is making winter conditions less predictable. The need to develop more ecological and at the same time effective methods of devices has also been raised.
Another key topic was certainly that of aircraft leasing: a growing business area in the sector with different scenarios and models relating to seasonality or the lack of aircraft. It has generally been agreed that leasing has not in itself created any compromise in terms of security, but that the regulatory system should be able to evolve better in light of the considerable increase in these transactions.
The last key topic was that of strengthening the safety management function within an airline. Support from above, in any organization, is a key component in establishing and maintaining a safety culture. A high-level multidisciplinary team with operational experience and engineering knowledge, senior safety manager trained at the senior level in the organization as well as continuous open exchanges with operating personnel are a key asset for the safety of operations. Effective risk management is based on organizations that regularly examine their risk tolerance and monitor compliance.
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