The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has introduced a new Centralised Safety Reporting System that is aimed at improving aviation safety by reducing aircraft accidents.
The new system provides a platform for the public and those that are involved in aviation operations such as pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, engineers, airport and ground personnel, to report unsafe activities, omissions and situations that could lead to an aircraft accident, SACAA says in a statement. The new system, however, does not replace the reporting of an accident or serious incident which should still be reported to the Accident and Incident Investigation Division of the SACAA.
Director of Civil Aviation Captain Colin Jordaan says the “Central Safety Management Reporting facility was introduced in order to meet the requirements stated in the Standards and Recommended Practices of ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation) around safety management. Most importantly, the new system is a proactive procedure which enables anyone to report aviation safety risks, on the ground or in the air, whether perceived or real, that could prevent an aircraft accident.”
The announcement of the new system comes a few weeks after aviation experts gathered at a seminar convened by the SACAA to discuss safety concerns and whether the relatively new concept of the Safety Management System is the ultimate solution to aviation safety.
The Centralised Safety Reporting System, which forms part of the broader Safety Management System, accommodates three types of reporting, i.e. voluntary, mandatory and confidential. The Reporting System also affords whistle-blowers confidentiality.
“Ensuring aviation safety is a daunting task, especially when the general public and role players in the aviation industry are not proactively taking part in reporting unsafe behaviour and events that could lead to an accident. With the introduction of the Centralised Safety Reporting System, the process of alerting the SACAA to risky acts, omissions and events has been made easier. Through this system and with everyone’s involvement, we are optimistic that hazards can be identified well in advance, thereby providing those involved with an opportunity to prevent any potential loss of life, injury or damage to property;” says Louise Stols, General Manager: Risk and Compliance at the SACAA.
According to Stols, reports sent to the SACAA through the Centralised Safety Reporting System are held in strict confidence. “For instance; reporters may, but are not required, to submit their names and contact information. Moreover; when analysing or disseminating the report among relevant departments for follow-up, all identifying information about the submitter is removed.”
Stols further explained that once a report is received, it is logged and where necessary de-identified and then distributed to the relevant SACAA technical department for further investigation. On a quarterly basis, the reports are analysed and statistical data or information in terms of identified trends is then shared with the aviation community to ensure that lessons are learnt and where necessary steps are taken to rectify mistakes.
“The Safety Reporting System is a non-punitive system, meaning that reports are investigated with the objective of preventing reoccurrence and not to apportion blame or legal liability. However, in cases where reports indicate serious safety deficiencies that are blatantly and deliberately disregarding applicable regulations, even after the SACAA has alerted the responsible individuals or entities, applicable regulatory or judicial actions will be instituted against such perpetrators;” said Stols.
The contact details for the centralized reporting system are: cell: 083 461 6000; landline: 011 545 1240 / 43 /1387; e-mail: [email protected] and fax: 011 545 1453 / 086 742 2777.
“Whilst we acknowledge that risk is inherent to the aviation industry, we also believe that most of the aircraft accidents we have encountered thus far could have been prevented had someone taken the initiative to report the risky behavioural trends, events and omissions encountered or observed that compromised safety,” adds Jordaan.