Air transport has grown tremendously over the last centuary. The launch of the Jumbo jet was the game changer in commercial air transport. The industry has expanded greatly since then and today it is a multi-billion industry employing thousands of people and providing transport services to millions yearly. Despite the growth, Air transport has been faced with increasing security and safety concerns. This is evident in the large number of air crashes recorded every year as well as the bombing of commercial airliners.Inorder to ensure safe air travel, numerous organizations and institutions have come on board to develop rules, regulations and standards on safety. Regulatory framework and safety requirements have been built up over the years and are continuously been enhanced to address emerging issues as pertains air security and safety. These organizations include International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA), National Transport and Safety Board (NTSB).Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Safety is key in Avaition.The industry is built on safety. There are there layers in safety regulation in Aviation. They are International, Regional and National regulatory arrangements. International regulatory requirements are addressed by ICAO.The ICAO is an agency of the United Nations and was established in 1944 through a convention on International Civil Aviation (Lavenex 2008, 938). The organization develops standards that cover all aspects of aviation including safety. Through its Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS), it provides the foundation of all safety regulations at a global scale. It oversees the development of safety regulatory framework by Member states through Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP). In recent years, ICAO requirements have been extended to require the implementation of a formal safety management by aviation service provider organizations as well as aircraft operators (Mclay 2008, 107). Regional regulatory arrangements is a layer that cedes National Regulatory functions to supra-national agencies. A good example is EASA. It was established in 2003 as an agency of the European Union. Its current mandates include initial certification determination of airworthiness of aircraft and related products as well as the approval of organizations involved in the design, manufacture and maintenance of aeronautical products. Further, it certifies personnel and organizations involved in operating an aircraft (Pietre 2010, 55). Regulations of the EASA are reached upon by member states of the EU. Finally, National regulatory requirements are promulgated in National legislations by the designated state authorities. These regulations are objective based on individual country.
Security is another critical aspect in Aviation. Aviation security is broad and includes all ground and air operations aimed at making Aviation secure. In the U.S.A, Aviation security has been governed by the FAA with significant private sector participation. Aviation security in the country came under intense scrutiny in the aftermath of September 11th attacks when terrorist hijacked four airliners crashing two into the World Trade Centre in New York and one near the Pentagon in Washington. Since the attacks, the FAA has adopted a multi-layered security regulation (Stewart 2008, 143). Canada also transferred its Aviation security to a federal agency, The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).The Multi-layer approach is based on the principle that if one layer is breached, the second will hold firm. Another body charged with ensuring security in Aviation is the NTSB.This is the body that investigates air crash accidents involving all commercial aircraft and military aircrafts in the U.S.It was established in 1967 as an independent investigative agency by congress/It is given priority in investigations into causes of aircrashes.It is the only body mandated to determine causes of accidents (Sweet 2008, 100). However, it is not given exclusive power. It is supposed to ensure appropriate participation by other agencies. It is mandated to ensure appropriate information developed about accidents is exchanged in a timely manner. In the U.K, Aviation security regulation is done by the CAA.It develops detailed regulatory requirements and guidance to support Aviation security policy (Pietre 2000, 58).
Three theories have been developed to explain the causes of aircrashes.They are referred to as the Accident causation models. The three models are simple linear, complex linear and complex non-linear models.sequntial events. The simple linear model presumes accidents are the result of a sequence that involves social, environmental and individual factors and mechanical or physical hazards (Pietre 2010, 60). The complex linear model assumes accidents are the result of a number of unsafe conditions where the flight crew is at risk. Finally, the complex non-linear model states that accidents are caused by mutually interacting variables in real time envirornments.It states accidents can be avoided by understanding the interaction of these factors (Lavenex 2008, 940). The three theories above point the fact that human beings are at the center of air crashes. Studies have revealed that human error is responsible for more than 70% of air crashes globally. These statistics show the integral role that human play in the aircraft. The Human Factor involves a combination of factors including psychological state, environmental factors, emotional state as well as mental factors affects a flight crews decision making as they interact with an aircraft’s systems (Mclay 2008, 125).
One of the Aviation incidents where the human factor played a key role was in the near crash of China airlines flight 006 in 1985.The flight was a routine one from Taipei to Los Angeles. The plane was a Boeing 747.Captain Ho, an experienced pilot was in charge of the plane together with three other crew. As the plane neared the coast of California, it experienced light turbulence. Soon after, the 4th engine began giving a weak thrust. The flight engineer immediately throttled the engine up but it did not respond (Lavenex 2008, 947). The Captain immediately called the Oakland control center and requested that he be assigned a lower altitude to retry the procedure. As the Captain tried to restart the plane, it began tilting to the left and begins falling from the sky (Lavenex 2008, 944). With thirty minutes left before the plane plunges in to the Pacific, the captain sees the horizon and begins to level the plane pulling it out of the dangerous nose dive. On landing, damage to the plane is evident. The door to the landing gear is torn off and there are damages to the wings. It was only a miracle that the plane landed safely (Stewart 2008, 148). The human factor has been identified as critical in addressing aviation safety. A lot of research has been launched to address the same. The NTSB takes the flight data recorder to Washington for analysis into the cause of the near accident. The first instrument to be investigated is the ADI which levels the plane. It is found to be working. Three engines are also found to be in order contrary to what the flight engineer had said (Pietre 2010, 58).
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- Doctor Alfhonce Michael (Author), 2015, Aviation safety. Regulatory framework, technology, contingency plan, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/373291