ICAO Action Wins FSF Praise

 - September 20, 2006, 5:39 AM

The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) is praising the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for approving an amendment that protects safety information from inappropriate use.

At issue is the use of safety information in legal proceedings against operational personnel. The FSF led the charge to push ICAO to amend Annex 13–Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation.

In January 2003, the FSF called on ICAO to develop a global strategic framework to ease the threat of unwarranted criminal proceedings during an accident investigation. Such a threat has impeded the flow of safety information between parties and not helped develop better operating practices.

“We are applauding ICAO’s action in approving this amendment,” said Stuart Matthews, president and CEO of the foundation. “Keeping confidential evidence collected by accident investigators or from incident reporting systems can only lead to enhanced safety since witnesses will be able to talk more freely and without concern that their evidence may be used in judicial proceedings.”

These provisions establish guidelines that ICAO states can follow to review and amend as necessary their national laws and regulations to protect sources of safety information. The provisions become effective in November.

“We call on every member country to enact the legislation as suggested by this amendment,” Matthews said. “Our position is that we would sooner find the cause of the accident so that it can then be corrected to prevent re-occurrence than have someone punished in the hope that that alone would fix the problem.”