Aviation safety threatened by regulators’ focus on costs

Aviation safety threatened by regulators’ focus on costs, says union

A call for the aviation industry to put safety first has been made by Prospect, in a motion to next week’s TUC Congress, amid concerns that regulation is increasingly focused on driving down costs.

The union, which represents specialists in air traffic service NATS as well as staff in the Civil Aviation Authority and UK airports and commercial airlines, will also launch its new policy document “Towards a sustainable aviation industry for the UK” at a fringe meeting during the annual union get-together in Brighton.

“This important motion draws on the expertise of our members across the aviation industry, from air traffic controllers to licenced aircraft engineers,” said Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy.

“They are uniquely placed to understand the complex issues facing aviation and the vital role of safety in delivering sustainable growth in a sector that is essential to national prosperity.”

The policy report charts the changes brought about by liberalisation of the aviation sector since the late 1980s and sets out recommendations for meeting the stern challenges it currently faces, including the need to reconcile airport expansion in the South East with the UK’s climate change commitments. It also seeks to address growing concern around worker fatigue.

With a projected increase in air traffic movements Prospect’s TUC motion states that safety should remain the paramount concern. However, the union says two factors are threatening safety.

The first is that, as part of the effort to complete the single European market in aviation, air traffic control organisations are having to meet demands from the regulators to reduce charges to airlines and airports, while continuing to improve performance.

Another factor, the union says, is the “flags of convenience” strategy that airlines are increasingly pursuing. “This risks a race to the bottom in labour standards and circumventing the engineering and licensing practices that secure the airworthiness of aircraft,” the motion states.

As a result of these threats, the motion calls for unions to promote a campaign on civil aviation, encouraging the public to identify safety as the top priority. In addition, Prospect urges support for the adoption of best practice in new EU-wide Just Culture policies that encourage the open reporting of safety incidents.

Prospect’s aviation fringe event will be held in Syndicate 3, The Brighton Centre, King’s Road, Brighton BN1 2GR on Monday 14th September at 12.45pm. Read “Towards a sustainable aviation industry for the UK”: https://library.prospect.org.uk//download/2015/01106

For further information contact:
Steve Jary
020 7902 6695 (w)
07713 511722 (m)
Andrew Child
020 7902 6681 (w)
07770 304480 (m)