Board Member John O’Brien Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Safety Measures
Alexandria, VA, June 10, 2009 — In testimony today before the Senate Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, Flight Safety Foundation Board Member John O’Brien warned that ”We cannot go back to a time where the only safety information available was purchased at the cost of human life in an accident.” O’Brien urged operators to embrace faster Safety Management Sytems (”SMS”) to ”focus attention on those items likely to cause the next crash, instead of accident investigations that focus attention on what caused the last crash.”
In the wake of recent judicial decisions ordering disclosure of voluntary supplied safety information and the use of accident investigation reports in civil litigation and criminal prosecutions around the world, O’Brien also stated: ”We believe there is an urgent need for legislative protection against the release or use in civil litigation or criminal prosecutions of voluntary self disclosure reporting programs. ” O’Brien reiterated the Foundation’s call for the creation of a ”qualified exception” from discovery, similar to the protection accorded the use of cockpit voice recorders and transcripts.
O’Brien, who served for over 22 years as Director of Air Safety and Engineering for ALPA and has been involved in over 50 accident investigations, emphasized that SMS and voluntary disclosure programs ”are critical to predict and prevent accidents, but the ability to collect and analyze that data can only be built on a foundation of trust and commitment.” His testimony also covered some of the issues that have been raised in recent months in the industry such as fatigue, icing and training standards, but focused on the importance of safety management systems and protection of data.
Mr. O’Brien applauded the progress and improved safety in the aviation industry as the Federal Aviation Administration and safety professionals worked together. But he also stated that the ”FAA needs to continue to be the worldwide leader, not follower, in encouraging the latest, scientifically-based efforts to improve safety.”
Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, auditing, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to pursue the continuous improvement of global aviation safety and the prevention of accidents. www.flightsafety.org
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