Seeking Global Leadership

indexThe British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) insists that global leadership from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is urgently needed to respond to July’s tragic incident in the Ukraine and in all operations in or over areas of hostility.

ICAO is the UN body responsible for co-ordinating the safety and order of global aviation across States, but BALPA has raised questions about whether it should have a greater leadership role and strengthened powers to go with that responsibility .

Jim McAuslan, BALPA General Secretary, said: “Individual pilots looking at their flight plans need to have absolute confidence that the right calls are being made. The process behind the choice of airspace routing is based on a risk assessment; both by a country’s national aviation security services in the advice that they give to their airlines, and by the airline in how they assess this advice. This risk assessment approach can give an illusion of safety but it is in fact vulnerable to all sorts of influences including commercial pressure and so it is not surprising to us that there are differences in the way that this risk is assessed by different airlines.

“That is not good enough. Passengers and pilots want a uniform level of safety, not one that is decided in secret.

“Whilst the ultimate responsibility of last week’s murders lies with the people who apparently directed a missile at a peaceful civil airliner, this should not prevent us looking at the failures that led to that outcome; failures that could easily be repeated in other areas of conflict.

“ICAO’s purpose should be to lead where national authorities cannot and it should have the tools to do that. The problem of the absence of a clear international co-ordination to avoid operations above eastern Ukraine has now become tragically obvious and to avoid a repeat ICAO should be better resourced and enabled to declare airspace unsafe.

“ICAO also needs to reflect on its own rules of membership. Participating states enjoy privileges such as free movement, but with that comes responsibility. If a state does not live up to that responsibility, such as sharing of information and allowing full and free access to accident investigation, then membership and privileges should be reconsidered.”

Posted in Airlines, Features

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