Panel Recommends Changes In FAA "Safety Culture"

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A blue-ribbon panel that was told by the Department of Transportation several months ago to look into the "safety culture" of the FAA has filed its report. "We have found the FAA's aviation safety staff to be unambiguously committed to its core mission of safety," the panel reported. "However, we find a remarkable degree of variation in regulatory ideologies among the field office staff, which, in places, creates the likelihood of generating wide variances, and possible errors, in regulatory decision-making." The panel mainly focused on how the FAA oversees airline operations, but some of the suggested changes could spill over to affect general aviation -- such as changes in how airworthiness directives are handled by the agency, and a recommendation that more training should be required for managers and inspectors in the field. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters directed the FAA to implement all 13 of the panel's recommendations.

"The mark of an effective safety system is its ability to constantly improve and adapt," Peters said. "Today, the Independent Review Team has delivered a blueprint that will assure continued safe skies ahead for America." New training for safety managers and inspectors will be implemented within six months, Peters said. Members of the review team were Ambassador Edward Stimpson (chair), J. Randolph Babbitt, William McCabe, Prof. Malcolm Sparrow, and Hon. Carl Vogt. Click here for the team's full report in PDF format, or click here for the DOT news release.