FAA Inspections to Improve

The Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Washington DC recently announced the results of a safety audit as well as internal plans to improve the general standards of the FAA Inspections. The safety audit showed that a striking 99 percent of airlines were complying with the Airworthiness Directives (ADs). While this is exceptionally high, steps are being taken to ensure that this success continues.

There are five main steps that are to be taken to ensure that aviation continues to be as safe and effective as it currently is. The first is to provide a means whereby inspectors can raise their concerns at a quicker rate to higher levels of authority. The second is that the ethical standards of inspectors should be toughened. The third is that the clarity and coordination of FAA issued directives to air carriers should be improved so that airline safety can be further enhanced. The fourth is that senior airline officials must be required to report voluntary disclosures. And the fifth step is to speed up the rate at which the aviation safety database is currently being expanded.

The fact that the country is experiencing its safest aviation period ever is certainly not seen as something that is accidental, since the entire industry has been focused on improving safety for some time now. However the FAA continues to find ways to increase accountability and strengthen the regulatory process. In so doing they hope to ensure that standards stay as high as they are or even improve.

Currently the FAA issues about 250 Airworthines Directives on over 83 different airplane and engine models annually. Air carriers are required to correct these potential hazards and they may need to do so before their next flight, within a number of days, within a month or two, or within a specified number of years – depending on the nature of the problem. These directives are legally enforceable and all air carriers are required to comply with them to the fullest degree possible.

A recent study of the effectiveness of these directives showed that the program that is currently in place is working and that levels of compliance are relatively high. As a result, the country is enjoying record safety levels. The new additions to the existing protocol should see an improvement in communications and better follow-up on compliance with ADs.