Sometimes it seems as if business and industry rush into the future-world with so much energy and eagerness that those who we rely on to keep watch over high-risk/high-reliability endeavors are barely managing to keep abreast of developments. For those of us in aviation, the entities that provide this oversight function (primarily the FAA in the US) must constantly renew rules, regulations, and guidelines to ensure that advances in technology don’t outpace our understanding of how these new tools work.
In today’s environment of rapid change in both areas of technology and regulation, the stage that this progress is played out on appears to be limited mainly to media reports of the great promise of technology (like same-day package delivery via miniature octocopter drones) and the great failures of technology (accidents like Asiana 214 in San Francisco in the Summer of 2013). Drawing durable lessons from these sources can be difficult without the critical analysis that only time and effort can provide. It takes a much closer examination of facts, data, and real evidence to generate the kind of guidance that in turn translates into smooth, efficient, and safe operations. One of our goals in providing analysis, advice, and durable guidance in safe modern flight operations is to incorporate a deeper analysis of the facts and provide these sources directly to our industry partners and those who follow our work.
One reference that we noticed in the past few months is a concise and inclusive review of much of the effort of oversight groups comes from the FAA. Its title isn’t very exciting or evocative (“Fact Sheet – Report on the Operational Use of Flight Path Management Systems”), which might explain why many aviation professionals don’t have it on their reading list. A more suitable title might be, “18 Critical Factors for Guaranteeing Safe Flight Operations for the 21st Century.” But since we aren’t consulted when the government names its documents, you’ll have to look for it under its less exciting title. Or you can find it here:
We took a close look at what this report says about contemporary flight operations and technology, two things we’re very concerned with. Of the 18 recommendations it reports on, 9 are directly related to what pilots do on the flight deck or how individual flight departments must adapt to ensure that operations keep pace with the technology many of us now employ. It’s full of valuable (contemporary) references that could easily augment any flight department’s SMS library, SOP guidance, or training doctrine. We recommend it to you for your own research and will continue to write about some of its findings and recommendations as we push forward into the New Year along with you.
Until our next post, fly safe and fly first.