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The times … they may be a changin’

With accidents statistics flat for nearly 20 years, TCCA is actively seeking new, more efficient and more productive ways to improve on safety management. 


Drew McCarthy

With
accidents statistics flat for nearly 20 years, TCCA  is actively seeking
new, more efficient and more productive ways to improve on safety management.
 Operator SMS, has been at the vanguard of that movement for several
years already. But there are other changes also being considered, not the least
of which is industry self-management.  On
Feb. 28, 2007, the Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC) Board of Directors
approved the release of a report on the feasibility of helicopter-AOC industry
self-management.   After
18 months of work on the part of the Association’s BOD and executive
management, HAC now encourages stakeholders from every facet of the industry to
make their opinions known on the subject by downloading the report from the HAC
website (http://www.h-a-c.ca/Industry_Self-mgt_Report.pdf) and talking to one
another as well as to HAC management. 

As
the finale to preliminary consultation HAC will be holding an H-AOC Industry
Self-management Forum at 8:30 a.m. on April 16, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency
Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.  The rationale for the self-management concept
has its origins with the Canadian Government Management Board’s directive to
establish “a new management framework based on program affordability,
cost-effectiveness and sound resource stewardship.”  The
Government Management Board policy is reflected in Transport Canada Civil
Aviation’s (TCCA’s) Flight 2010, which “encourages the exploration of
opportunities for transferring tactical responsibility and accountability for
safety to industry as to allow TCCA to concentrate on strategic management of
the system.”  The
primary objective of the feasibility study was “to identify, and substantiate
needs, issues and concerns arising from the prospect of an industry/government
partnership in H-AOC management and to propose an industry self-management
concept that addresses those needs, issues and concerns.” 

The
report is a comprehensive analysis of the pros and cons of self-management, but
as the report itself points out, “the ascendancy of the pros is obvious.”
 The authors are quick to point out that “this was not an intentional
result nor is it in any way meant to be a tacit endorsement of the Industry
Self-management concept.” In other words, here is the report on the feasibility
of helicopter industry self-management, you be the judge.  The
report details the issues surrounding self-management in a very precise and
efficient fashion, and offers considerable fodder for discussion.  The
decision to take the next step in moving the project forward or to put a stop
to the whole idea as far as HAC is concerned, is now subject to the will of the
industry. And industry is expected to exercise its will by making a decision at
HAC’s annual convention and trade show, April 15-17.  In
the last 12 years HAC has taken on a pivotal role in the Canadian helicopter
industry – which now makes the Association the best and most obvious place to
contemplate helicopter industry self-management.  Drawing on the quite
remarkable support enjoyed by HAC it may very well represent the perfect
vehicle for gathering and directing the positive potential of industry so as to
bring it to bear on revitalizing helicopter industry safety management. 

Certainly
many of the traditional industry concerns about being misunderstood or ignored
would most likely disappear should the HAC find itself playing the
proposed role of industry organization responsible for safety oversight.   On
the other hand, not pursuing TCCA’s proposal may not mean simply being able to
walk away from change. Given the overarching mandate of the Government
Management Board, the status quo may very well not be an option.  The
desire to improve safety results is driving the system toward change.  The
biggest question may be just how involved will industry be in managing its own
future. It does not really come down to choosing between “the devil you know”
versus “the devil you don’t know.”   There is nothing devilish about
the present system simply because it is no longer providing the desired
results. And there is nothing devilish about taking charge of your own future
when safety is an integral part of any recipe for success. 

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