Flawless operation or a Mishap Free Operation: What Should You aim for?

It has been said, “You seem to be convinced that a flawed world can be actually made flawless.”

My response is this. Human error is part of our nature. However we can make our own flight operations mishap free by remembering Miller’s Rule for Safety Management: ALL SAFETY IS LOCAL.

Any one safety manager cannot make a “flawed world ….. flawless.” He or she can only affect the operation over which they have control.

I can personally recommend steps to each LOCAL Flight Operations Safety Manager that have worked extremely well to achieve mishap free flight operations.

One person commented, “In a process oriented investigation “human error” cannot be the ultimate root cause. You need to ask yourself, “Why did the humans make the errors?”

My response to this is, “True, but you also need to go further and ask what procedures can be put into the SOP and become part of the training program that will help flight crew members overcome their human errors.

For example, lets say that a very important system characteristic is buried on page 49 of a chapter in the Aircraft Operating Manual. Well, maybe if it is considered to be so important, should it be bold faced, underlined and not buried on page 49? In other words, humans make errors that can easily be corrected. Safety managers need to find ways to help the flight operation correct errors as they are occurring and are reported.

Some have also said, that crew selection and training criteria are often driven by both financial and safety level aspects. FAA and other civilian authorities have criteria set at minimal requirements. But one company may decide to exceed those.
For example, one company may decide to select pilots (1) which have a Commercial Pilots License from a school with a weak syllabus and accept those after a minimal medical and psychological selection process, accepting captains with only 3,000 flight hours. Another company may have require at least a masters degree in technical sciences and demand a very strict medical and psychological selection criteria and accept captains only after 30,000 hrs. The same could and often does apply to training. One set of training requirements are used for a Government operation and another set of training criteria are used for a major airline.”

But my response is this. You still have to train flight crew in the company SOP. You still have to check to the SOP and make your operation “procedure oriented” and not technique oriented. This way flight crew are performing procedures and not using their own techniques to operate.

Further, as the operation improves its control, it will develop a need to have more standardization in procedures just so that mixed crews can operate efficiently.

Should the FAA tolerate such a wide variance between airlines? It is the Topic for another day.

Published by Capt. Paul Miller

Aviation safety expert with 43 years in the sky

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