Remarks by Mark V. Rosenker, Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
at the International Society Air Safety Investigators Seminar 2007
Singapore, Republic of Singapore
August 28, 2007
On behalf of the organizers of ISASI 2007, Mister Wing Keong CHONG and the staff at the Singapore Air Accident Investigation Bureau, please allow me to welcome you to our venue here in Singapore – and to the lovely Stamford Hotel.
It is always a pleasure to return to Singapore, and since my first visit over 20 years ago, each time I return, I am amazed at the continued growth and technical advancements that are taking place. Yesterday I visited with corporate officials at Singapore Airlines to view some of that new technology. I was briefed on the challenges of integrating the A380 into their airline route structure. We are all aware of how big the airplane is – and it is equally interesting to observe the maintenance and crew training issues as they present themselves in the airline environment. I’m also interested to view another transportation mode here in Singapore, the maritime sector. Of course we are all interested in the surface movement of aircraft - and there is a similar challenge at the Singapore Port Facility. Singapore is number one in the world for handling the movement of container ship traffic. The seaport traffic issues are very similar to those in aviation – where aviation is faced with ever increasing air traffic volume and limited airport arrival and departure rates, with runway incursion and excursion risks, the marine sector has similar challenges with narrow ship channels and limited dock side berths. Singapore leads the industry with a tracking system equal to our aviation methods – in fact they are already using technology similar to the automatic surveillance broadcast of the ships GPS position for marine ship movement. So congratulations to you, Singapore – for showing such leadership in integrating a variety of new technology into our everyday lives.
Now it is time to talk about ISASI 2007. Let’s start with the Seminar title: “Investigation Cooperation: From Investigation Site to ICAO”. I believe we can take that title to mean working within the cooperative framework of international standards and recommended practices, and further -- to transfer vital information from an accident site anywhere in the world, with careful analysis along the way, to the offices and the staff of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal. I’ve looked at the delegate list and note that we have representation from all continents of the globe. We know right away that our friends from South Asia and North Asia are well represented. And we see representation from all of Europe, the Mid East and Russia. Looking further, Africa and Australia are here, and for the Americas, from Chile to Canada we have representation. This representation is truly the global approach desired by ICAO to permit the greatest exchange of ideas and international cooperation.
Now what do we do with these ideas. There are ample opportunities to apply multiple aviation safety initiatives through various avenues. There are local nation state opportunities, as well as action by regional organizations, and within the global framework. My agency, the U.S. NTSB maintains an Internet web site posting our “Most Wanted” list of safety recommendations. We try and keep the focus on those issues that offer the greatest potential for saving lives and avoiding a major disaster. As one example, we give the highest priority to reducing the risk of a runway collision. And we are certainly not alone. Just last month, President of the ICAO Council, Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez during an address to the Strategic Aviation Safety Summit in Bali, Indonesia declared, “There is an urgent need to implement a concrete, realistic, and achievable plan of action”. I fully endorse the words of President Kobeh. His personal attention to such issues will have lasting impact. And I believe we all can fully endorse ICAO’s Global Aviation Safety Plan, and the industry developed Global Aviation Safety Road Map to support the plan.
But I have to add something about the ICAO Road Map. As aviators, I believe you will be quick to recognize my point. When we discuss the roadmap, or any map, we know it will show you the direction to take – but it requires a commitment to reach your destination. In the case of the Global Aviation Safety Plan, we have to address the commitment of states and operators to reach the intended safety objectives. That is where the ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP) plays a very important part. The ICAO USOAP audit results provide identification of a State’s capabilities to provide adequate safety oversight. As the audit cycle becomes complete in 2008, and with the agreement among states to release ICAO audit information to the public in 2009, the States not meeting their safety oversight responsibilities, those requiring assistance to improve their infrastructure and technical competence, will be well known. Thereafter, we should be looking toward each and every State’s high-level commitment to its long-term sustainable safety responsibilities … and to meet the milestones along the safety roadmap.
Let’s take a moment to view the record of the aviation industry – and the ongoing safety efforts around the world. Consider for a moment the number of travelers - or the number of departures - that take place around the world every day. More than 2 billion passengers traveled by commercial air transportation in 2006. Certainly we recognize the accidents that took place – and you will hear more about some of them during the Seminar, however, we should also recognize that many of the safety improvements that aviation safety professionals and groups such as ISASI have promoted over the years are now providing the benefits we predicted. I’m referring to the professional crew training and the elevated standards of SOPs, adherence to the stabilized approach criteria, improved reliability of the aircraft power plants, and the very specific enhancements such as satellite navigation systems, moving map airport displays, Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning and Traffic Collision Avoidance systems. What we have to do now, …today’s challenge -- is to maintain that momentum for an ever-increasing level of aviation safety.
As the industry moves to adopt the Safety Management Systems (SMS) approach, we have a unique opportunity to increase the level of safety – and to involve all the stakeholders in the solution. The industry has readily endorsed the SMS objectives to find more efficient methods of safety data collection, and to analyze that incident data in a proactive way to reduce the accident potential in our operations. With the SMS approach, the objective is to identify multiple risk factors, reduce or eliminate those risks, thereby providing intervention in the causal chain of events, with the end result to prevent major accidents before they occur.
However, we must be realistic, aviation is a human endeavor; unfortunately, air accidents and serious incidents will continue to occur. And related safety recommendations originating from those unfortunate events will be necessary. At every level of government and industry, we must be prepared for major accident. As we can see from the most recent occurrences, a major accident can quickly become a national crisis - with international consequences far beyond aviation interests.
So, we are gathered here today to share our experiences and knowledge, in order to produce the best possible air safety investigations. We have a unique opportunity at ISASI 07 to gain further insight in aviation safety initiatives from an outstanding group of presenters. And the topic list holds some very valuable subjects for each of us. We will hear about some recent investigations from a variety of locations, from Africa, from Indonesia, from Brazil, and from the oceanic area, to name a few. The airframes discussed will range from the general aviation Cessna and Cirrus, to include the very light jets (VLJs), and extend to the most modern commercial transport airplanes, the complete spectrum of our industry.
As members of this unique professional society, ISASI, I’m certain you are interested in the advancing investigative techniques. You won’t be disappointed. Of course flight recorders will be addressed, with views from several different perspectives. Also, there are several papers on the techniques and protocols of investigation with particular emphasis on the aspect of international cooperation. The cultural challenges of our variety of social systems that combine during an investigation are present in almost every investigation. National borders have become transparent in many ways; in the manufacture of the airframe and the various components, in the crew makeup and training of our personnel, in maintenance facilities, and with air traffic service providers. We are truly a multinational and fully global industry. Several speakers will discuss these cross-cultural challenges as they affect the workings of an air safety investigation.
Before closing, I’d like to make added mention of the importance of international cooperation and the need for harmonized best practices in investigation. This is especially true for those of us representing airplane-manufacturing states. Our industries desire to provide the most airworthy aircraft possible for the market place. To do this, we need to know how the aircraft perform in the market place, and when deficiencies do become apparent, to move swiftly to correct them – and avoid recurrence. As an effort to harmonize and promote efficiency in air safety investigation, in the Fall of 2008, ICAO will convene an Accident Investigation and Prevention Divisional Meeting (AIG 2008) for all ICAO state and interested organizations. The Chief of the AIG Division, Mr. Marcus Costa, is with us for this seminar. He will make an address to us during the seminar. I would ask all attendees to pay particular attention to the message from Mr. Costa. AIG 2008 will be an opportunity for all of us to refine and modernize ICAO Annex 13 and our accident investigation process to be to be as efficient as possible.
And now, as delegates to ISASI 07, I hope I have addressed some of your objectives in attending the Seminar – and that I have addressed some of the safety challenges facing our aviation industry. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the multiple opportunities throughout the seminar to exchange and gather information, and equally important, to meet your colleagues in this productive environment.
I thank you for your attention and I wish you the most stimulating and fruitful seminar.