[Aviation Today June 17, 2014] The FAA is looking to improve global air transportation safety through data sharing initiatives with aviation regulators and operators from Asia to Europe and Latin America, according to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
During a speech in Washington, D.C., at a symposium on international data programs, Huerta outlined the FAA's plan to expand data sharing between countries in an effort to maintain U.S. commercial aircraft accident rates at their currently historically low levels. Data being shared includes reports on pilot mistakes, malfunctioning of onboard avionics systems and errors committed by Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) in their communication with pilots.
Ultimately, the FAA wants to use safety data reported from various regions to produce early warnings about aircraft safety risks and prevent accidents from occurring. Huerta said aviation regulators in other countries share the FAA's views.
"Within the last six months, I’ve been to Colombia, Singapore, Europe, China and Japan," said Huerta. "The common thread for each is the discussion about how the international aviation community will achieve smarter regulation for safety and cost-effective measures to achieve a vibrant aviation system. Data sharing needs to be part of any system that’s striving for safety. Data sharing and international partnership go hand in hand."
According to the FAA chief, that type of increased data sharing is already occurring. Recently, the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) signed an agreement with the International Commercial Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Pan American Regional Aviation Safety Group to share reports from U.S. operators about their experiences flying at 22 different Latin American and Caribbean region airports. As a result, the Regional Aviation Safety Group has identified 30 different safety enhancement initiatives to improve runway safety, controlled flight into terrain, and loss of control in flight.
Data sharing's impact has also been shown throughout Central and South America, where the number of unsafe landing approaches has decreased by nearly 50 percent at more than 20 airports. This was the result of analysis about the risks of certain approaches, such as approaching too fast. Currently more than 40 countries have joined in data sharing programs. EASA has been working with the FAA to establish a database that will allow both agencies to share information while addressing security concerns for each.
Although aircraft accident rates are currently at the lowest rates in history, the projected increase in air traffic makes for the possibility of a greater number of total incidents.
"Aviation is evolving rapidly. I imagine that a hundred years from now, the professionals who follow us will enjoy the benefits of the foundation we have put in place with data sharing. The system they use will be shaped by the decisions and the choices we make today," said Huerta.