Babbitt to regional execs: add FOQA and ASAP

 - November 23, 2009, 6:41 AM

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt called on members of the Regional Airline Association (RAA) to participate in voluntary safety information programs such as FOQA (flight operational quality assurance) and ASAP (aviation safety action program) during the group’s fall meeting last month in Washington.

“If you are unfamiliar with those acronyms, that’s a sign that your organization isn’t as safe as it could be–as it should be,” he said.

“If I were asking you to invest in a business and gave you only three data points, you wouldn’t be able to make a decision,” Babbitt said. “Relying on forensics for aviation safety puts us in that same spot. We have too few accidents to provide us with forensic information.”

While accident investigations fill in few data points, self-disclosure provides a wealth of data, he explained. Voluntary safety reporting strengthens knowledge of safety problems and the ability to correct them.

“When you look at ASIAS– the aviation safety information analysis and sharing system– you’re looking at the cutting edge of safety,” Babbitt told the RAA. “That’s the thing that will allow us to spot precursors before there’s a crash.” ASIAS is a collaborative government-industry initiative to discover safety concerns before accidents or incidents occur, leading to timely mitigation and prevention.

Babbitt also urged the regional airline executives to implement safety enhancements developed by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team. CAST has developed many safety improvements based on data analysis; safety advances that deal with TAWS, icing, TCAS policies and procedures; and Advisory Circular 120-16E, which deals with maintenance.

Safety Enhancements
He also mentioned safety enhancement 175, which addresses maintenance policies and risks stemming from pitot static systems covered during maintenance or servicing. “One-third of RAA carriers and almost two-thirds of NACA [National Air Carrier Association] carriers have not adopted these,” he disclosed. “That’s unacceptable. I would encourage each of you to check and see if this enhancement has been implemented. If not, I’d ask you to push.”

The FAA Administrator also urged increased professionalism. “The accidents we’ve seen of late make it clear that a lack of professionalism can kill,” he told the group. “As I’ve said on a number of occasions, we can’t regulate professionalism.

Professionalism is doing the right thing when no one is looking. What we all know by now in this stage of our careers is that someone’s always looking.”