A Wake-up Call for Aviation Safety

Exactly one year after the Icelandic Volcano sharpened media focus on the air traffic control profession to almost unprecedented levels, we find the TV camera lens, and the journalist keyboards once again turning their attention to our industry.
CANSO G. Lake PR 21.04Graham Lake has been Director General of CANSO since December 2009. He brings 30 years of international aviation experience to the role, including management roles at SERCO, SITA and ARINC.
Not to report on the simulated volcanic eruption planned to test reactions and plans one year on from Iceland, and (I hope) to applaud the progress made but to draw attention to incidents where Air Traffic Controllers fell asleep on the job.

Firstly, I have already somewhat nervously marked my diary for the same week next year, just in case these difficult weeks in April run in threes!

More importantly however, like everyone else in the industry, I find myself asking what this means; what actions need to be taken? What do we need to do as a result?

Its important to remember that CANSO Members, indeed our industry as a whole is achieving unprecedented levels of operational throughput, safety and efficiency, but even so, the Big Brother media reaction that is unleashed on occasions such as these can be bristling. Still, the media is drawing attention to something that we all find unacceptable and that cannot be ignored.

Fatigue is not a new issue for aviation, but perhaps the public are more used to reading about tired pilots, tired junior doctors, or about road accidents caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

Whatever our personal reaction, aviation professionals everywhere will be taking a long, hard look at their own records, procedures and policies to learn from the experience. This too is right and proper; every one of us has a part to play in the safety culture of our industry

The challenges we face are human, the industry we serve is global. We must share the lessons learned, we must help each other to develop consistent, just and reliable policies that take full account of the fast changing world in which our professionals are expected to perform.

CANSOs Safety team will be making its own assessments and working across the globe to share the lessons learned, guide regulators, and harmonise philosophies.

A wake-up call indeed.
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