Thursday, March 23, 2023
Prioritizing Aviation Safety:
FAA Safety Summit
FAA Safety Summit
Last week, APFA attended the FAA Safety Summit in Washington, DC, alongside fellow Labor and aviation industry leaders. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen, and NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy addressed actions our industry must take to always stay one step ahead. With regards to recent aviation incidents and runway incursions, leaders called all aviation stakeholders to action—each of us in the industry must identify key patterns and risk factors, determine what role everyone must play to reduce these risk factors, and implement additional steps in our respective roles as part of the aviation system.
Safety Management Systems – Predictive vs. Proactive vs. Reactive
Our ability to mitigate safety incidents involves robust safety programs at all levels of the industry. Safety regulators stressed the need for more predictive and proactive Safety Management Systems (SMS). SMS is a requirement for all part 121 operators (commercial airlines), and in addition to predictive and proactive systems, SMS also requires reactive systems. An example of a reactive system is the Cabin ASAP program, an integral part of our safety culture. Generally, the aviation industry tends to be reactionary in response to an incident. To stay ahead of potential incidents, we must shift our safety culture and begin thinking more predictively and proactively.
The NTSB is investigating extreme turbulence events that have led to serious injuries. Turbulence is the cause of 3 out of 4 Flight Attendant injuries. The NTSB has 25 recommendations for operators that remain open. Flight Attendants have advocated for decades that every passenger needs a seat and seatbelt . In severe turbulence or an aviation accident, lap children under two years old have sustained injuries or have not survived. As part of the 2023 FAA Reauthorization Bill, APFA is raising this safety concern with Congress.
With the aviation industry expected to grow in the next ten years, the industry must consider how to not overstress our airspace. APFA and our other Labor partners shared the immense pressure and short staffing our workforces are under. Across the board, from air traffic controllers to Pilots to Flight Attendants, our industry needs to staff up. Instead, many of us feel the squeeze, and new workers are not attracted to aviation jobs. We feel how operational reliability, above all else, puts pressure on Flight Attendants and other workgroups. Safety must never be rushed, and aviation workers need quality training to rebuild a safety-first culture. Meanwhile, Flight Attendants continue to deal with disruptive and violent passengers, fumes events in the cabin, excessively high and low cabin temperatures, higher than normal radiation exposure, and turbulence-related injuries.
Left to Right: Andrew Rhinehart (APFA National Safety & Security Chair), Lyn Montgomery, Jannah Dalak, and Michael Massoni (TWU Local 556)
2023 is a big year for APFA members. Not only are we negotiating improvements at the bargaining table, but we are legislating improvements in Congress. There has never been a more important time to stay engaged. Keep an eye out for upcoming Calls to Action.
APFA National Safety & Security Chair