Client Pressures

Operating pressures from clients may be subtle or overt. Some clients may be unaware that they are pressuring the operator and/or pilot to either start or continue a flight. They may also be unaware of what constitutes an unsafe operating practice and what are the associated risks. Other clients may be well aware of the risks but are willing to accept those risks as required to get the job done.

Operating pressures, whether real or perceived, are induced by clients and the competitive nature of commercial aviation only contributes to the problem. "If you won't take this trip, I'll find someone else who will", whether a real or perceived pressure, influences air operators' and pilots' decision making. Clients should be aware of how they can affect the air operators' and pilots' decision to operate safely or not. For example, split the load and do two flights instead of asking the pilot to overload the aircraft. Wait for the weather to improve instead of pressuring the pilot to take off or continue the flight when the weather is marginal.

Government agencies and other air operator clients often award contracts to the operator who submits the lowest bid. They should understand the potential problem this creates especially in a competitive market where contracts are valued. By undercutting the competition, safety could be compromised if the air operator cuts costs elsewhere to make up for the revenue lost by taking the contract. Reducing the air operators' ability to be profitable creates operating pressures that are passed from the management throughout the company.

Safety-minded air operators should be able to promote themselves to clients and prospective clients. Additional training, company safety programs, or any other information that shows the operator is doing more than the minimum required by regulation could be included with contract bids or as promotional material.

SR 8 - Recommend Transport Canada, in association with the aviation industry, review and update promotional material to educate clients about human factors and safety issues and distribute information about how clients can identify safety-minded air operators.

IA 8 - Recommend air operator associations participate in the review of promotional material aimed at educating clients, and produce and distribute information to their member air operators.

SR 9 - Recommend Transport Canada amend the Company Aviation Safety Officer course and Air Taxi client briefings to include a module on client education and customer relations.

Air operators must create a climate within their company where responsibility is shared among all operational personnel for safe operating practices. Additionally, air operators should work together and not degrade safety by taking a flight that they know their competitor didn't or won't. If air operators agreed to this "operating standard", then clients would not be able to play one air operator against the other. Cooperation between air operators would reduce the competitive pressure, whether real or perceived, that if one air operator won't take the flight, the competition will.

SR 10 - Recommend Transport Canada organize and facilitate sessions where air operators can meet as a group to take an active role in fostering a safety culture and encouraging safe operating practices, discuss common problems and arrive at industry-made solutions in cooperation with Transport Canada. Once the group is established, Transport Canada's role would diminish as the group becomes self-sufficient.

IA 10 - Recommend air operators actively participate in the Transport Canada/air operator group sessions.

SR 11 - Recommend Transport Canada make funding or other assistance available for air operators who are establishing safety associations or programs.

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