In the two years since the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented its new “compliance philosophy,” the number of enforcement actions taken by the agency has declined 70 percent, according to a recent speech by Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami. In the same time frame, FAA has corrected more than 8,000 safety issues through nonenforcement “compliance actions.”
FAA describes a compliance action as “an open and transparent safety information exchange” between FAA and the certificate holder. “Its only purpose is to restore compliance and to identify and correct the underlying causes that led to the deviation,” FAA says.
While it’s hard to assess such a sweeping effort’s overall success after just two years, the early results are encouraging. FAA has been clear that enforcement action is still an option for stakeholders who will not or cannot comply, yet it still has been able to address thousands of safety issues through non-punitive compliance actions.
The goal of the compliance philosophy is to foster an open, problem-solving approach to allow safety problems to be understood through proactive exchange of information and effective compliance, according to FAA, which also says it “recognizes that in many situations, enforcement can inhibit the open exchange of information with industry. However, through increased sharing of safety data among FAA organizations, industry and international peers, we can better identify emerging hazards and predict associated aviation safety risks.”
The increased sharing of safety data among all aviation stakeholders is one of the goals of the Foundation’s Global Safety Information Project. We strongly believe that effective collection and analysis of safety data, and the sharing of safety information among departments within an organization and among stakeholders across the spectrum of aviation sectors, is essential to continuing to improve the industry’s safety performance.
Also essential to the industry’s future will be the evolution of regulatory oversight around the world to include more of a focus on identify and mitigating safety issues as quickly as possible and less emphasis on meting out punishments for honest mistakes.