A “JUST CULTURE”? CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN THE INVESTIGATION OF AVIATION ACCIDENTSJournal: Scientific Journal of Silesian University of Technology. Series Transport (Vol.94, No. 94)
Publication Date: 2017-03-01
Authors : Tomasz BALCERZAK;
Page : 5-17
Keywords : aviation accident; conflict of interests; Just Culture; accident investigation; safety.;
The sole purpose of air accident investigations should be the prevention of accidents and other incidents in the future, without apportioning blame or liability. A civil aviation safety system is based on feedback and lessons learned from accidents and incidents, while requiring the strict application of rules on confidentiality in order to ensure the availability of valuable sources of information in the future. Therefore, related data, especially sensitive safety information, should be protected in an appropriate manner. Information provided by an individual in the framework of a safety investigation should not be used against them, in full respect of constitutional principles, and national and international law. Each “involved person” who knows about an accident or serious incident should promptly notify the competent state authority for carrying out an investigation of the event. “Involved person” refers to one of the following: the owner; a member of the crew; the operator of the aircraft involved in an accident or serious incident; any person involved in the maintenance, design, manufacture of that aircraft or in the training of its crew; any person involved in air traffic control, providing flight information or providing airport services, which provided services for the aircraft concerned; staff of the national civil aviation authority; or staff of the European Aviation Safety Agency. In terms of the protection level of the organization (employer), employees who report an event or submit an application to the investigation cannot bear any prejudice from their employer because of information provided by the applicant. The protection does not cover (exclusions): infringement with wilful misconduct (direct intent, recklessness infringement); infringement committed by a clear and serious disregard of the obvious risks; and serious professional negligence, i.e., the failure to provide unquestionably duty of care required under the circumstances, causing possible or actual damage to persons or property leading the level of aviation safety being seriously compromised. All employees in the aviation sector, regardless of their function, have safety-related duties and are therefore critical to the security of the entire civil aviation system. The safety of this system requires that any event that has or may have an impact on security in aviation should be reported voluntarily and without delay, because it is necessary to conduct an appropriate investigation in order to increase the level of safety. “Just Culture” is the basic premise for the effective functioning of the reporting of events required for all aviation organizations in order to maintain and raise the safety level. As safety management is based on precise data, it is necessary to introduce appropriate procedures, which allow for obtaining information not only about the events that have already occurred, but also about any other events that could potentially cause hazardous conditions. All the procedures and rules of operation relating to the policy of Just Culture should be constructed so that they not only comply with the provisions of applicable law, but are also rational and understandable by all stakeholders, as well as provide certain comfort and confidentiality to persons reporting events that affect airline safety. Changes in the existing legal system should be established in cooperation with all concerned institutions: law enforcement, including the courts and public prosecution, aviation insurers, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission and other entities. Is it possible to reconcile the interests of the so-called culture of aviation safety, i.e., Just Culture, with the requirements of the above-mentioned institutions and traders involved in the implementation of air transport and the exploration of the effects of aerial surveys? The answers to this and similar questions will be widely presented in this article.
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Last modified: 2017-04-03 16:39:20