Air France considers 35 safety changes following independent review

 - January 13, 2011, 2:22 AM

Management and union representatives at Air France have started to digest 35 safety recommendations delivered to them on January 24 by the team of experts commissioned by the French flag carrier in December 2009 to conduct an independent review of its safety standards and procedures. The initiative came in response to the mysterious crash earlier that year of an Air France A330 into the Atlantic Ocean on a flight between Rio de Janeiro and Paris, which the airline acknowledged at the time had raised “legitimate questions” about its safety performance.

Contrary to expectations raised in The Wall Street Journal, Air France has not published the findings of the review. Given that investigators have yet to conclude the official investigation into the A330 accident and that prolonged liability lawsuits would seem a likely outcome, it would appear highly improbable that Air France ever intended to publish the review’s content at this point. Indeed, the airline made no such pledge to do so when it hired the review team, consisting of a mix of highly experienced international experts in aviation safety and engineering. Much of the evidence gathered by the review team consisted of input from Air France employees and their own direct observation of the airline’s safety practices.

Now Air France is leaving it to the joint committee of managers, staff and unions to decide to what extent the airline should adopt, postpone or reject the 35 recommendations. It has given no indication of when it will complete the entire process beyond its assurance that “most of the recommendations will be rapidly implemented.” The airline has already implemented some of the review group’s preliminary recommendations, including the creation of a flight safety committee within the company’s board of directors, as well as a new program called Line Operations Safety Audit, in which flight crew are observed during trips.