Page 4 - InterPilot Issue 2 2016
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Safety Comes First

s the Professional Pilot Associations from around the world prepare to come together
Afor their Annual Conference, and as I reflect on my first year as President of this
incredible organisation; it is worth considering why the hundreds of volunteers give up
their time and efforts to form the ‘backbone’ and strength of IFALPA. Similar to many
other groups, pilots seek to be ‘professional’ in both senses of the word – in the sense that
it is normally our main source of income and in the sense that we want to work to the
highest possible standards.
In the case of professional pilots, this means always having the safety of the passengers,
crew, aircraft and cargo as the highest priority when making decisions. This is the
motivation which drives the work of IFALPA and underlies the work of our committees and
their members, our staff and our Executive and Regional Vice Presidents.
Safety is an often misunderstood concept and means different things to different people.
People often describe ‘safe’ as the ‘absence of risk’ – so for our passengers, a ‘safe flight’
would be a flight where there was no risk – but is this right?
Safety professionals, such as pilots, know that we are subject to varying degrees of risk
all the time. The number of people who die each year in my home country of the UK, for
Capt. Martin Chalk example, just walking from A to B is more than 20 a year! Interestingly, civil aviation has
President, IFALPA paid such careful attention to the challenge of minimising risk that you are more likely to
die from falling whilst walking than by taking a commercial flight (although both are highly
Civil aviation professionals use evidence, research and pooled expertise to seek to
minimise and mitigate risks - to reduce them as far as is practicable. This collaborative
approach, where we insist that “The sole objective of the investigation of an accident or
incident shall be the prevention of accidents and incidents. It is not the purpose of this
activity to apportion blame or liability.” is the foundation of our safety record – that is a
quote from the globally agreed ICAO Annex 13.
The success of our industry in reducing risk to such very low levels is under threat,
however. It is IFALPA’s prime role, and it is the reason all those volunteers give so
generously of their time and efforts, to ensure that the lessons of the past are not forgotten
and that we continue to develop and learn for the future - that we do not put hard won
success at risk, as technology, business practice and globalisation develop. We also need to
ensure 24-hour news and a voracious media appetite for immediate answers do not affect
the way the industry approaches challenges. As one example, the French BEA produced a
group of recommendations in response to 4U9525 which they emphasise must be
implemented together – choosing the ‘easy’ to implement regulatory measures and ignoring
the supportive and socio-economic recommendations will make things worse!
During our 71st Conference this year, there will be discussion of best practice for pilot
support programmes, which are proven as the best protection against behavioural health
challenges affecting pilots’ work – one of the recommendations of the BEA.
Our conference agenda also includes a look at the developments in Remotely Piloted
Air Systems (drones) and how they affect our industry, now and in the future. We will
examine moves towards performance based regulation, particularly a new approach to rules
protecting passengers and crew (and those beneath the flight path) from pilots affected by
fatigue. We also have planned a panel discussion between senior figures from ICAO, IATA
and IFALPA describing how a collaborative approach has provided high quality guidance
material in some of the more complex areas of regulation, and discussing how that might
develop in the future.
My first year as President of IFALPA has been a steep learning curve, and I believe this
year’s Conference will continue that trend, not just for me – but for all our delegates. I am
looking forward to it!

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Issue 2 | 2016 InterPilot | The safety and Technical Journal of IFALPA
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