Industry Consultation Sessions

The Task Force believed that industry participation was essential to the success of this project. Throughout the project, the Task Force asked industry to "Tell us what you think". The most important and productive approach was the face-to-face industry consultation sessions. In October 1996, Transport Canada regional inspectors from Commercial and Business Aviation and System Safety identified 33 locations for the meetings. The locations were chosen based on proximity to air operators in an attempt to get a good turnout at the meetings. Transport Canada Airworthiness inspectors were invited to take part in the industry meetings to round out the Task Force. In December 1996, two Transport Canada System Safety inspectors and a human factors specialist were trained in facilitation techniques to maximize participation by the audience. At the same time the format of the meetings was defined.

A flyer advertising the meetings was mailed to commercially-licenced fixed-wing and helicopter pilots, and Aircraft Maintenance Engineers. The various industry associations represented on the Task Force also promoted the meetings to their members. A poster advertising the meetings was sent to all Flight Service Stations with the request to post it in a conspicuous location for itinerant pilots to see. Industry participation at the meetings ranged from 4 to 70 people and approximately 660 people attended the meetings. The Task Force received excellent input from the participants even at those meetings that were less well attended.

Each meeting began with a welcome and description of the SATOPS process. Basic national and regional statistical summaries of commercial accidents from 1990 through 1995 were presented. At all meetings, except Dorval (English) and Iqaluit, a representative from Alexander and Alexander (Reed Stenhouse) spoke about the insurance industry's support for the SATOPS project, outlined the philosophy underlying the insurance industry's approach to aviation, and stressed the importance of the air operators communicating their safety initiatives to their insurance broker to ensure they get the best possible rate. Often, if the air operator is providing its flight crews with additional training, such as simulator training, or providing them with other safety related training or programs, the annual insurance premium may be reduced.

The facilitator then presented a model of human error, emphasizing that an accident is not a discrete event, but is the product of a process that may originate well before the accident occurred. Most accidents can be traced to an unsafe act or unsafe condition. Analysis of these unsafe acts and conditions usually reveals that they existed prior to the accident flight or their occurrence can be accounted for by background factors such as: training, experience, operating pressures, communications, prevailing practices, decision making, management, or costs. These background factors were presented in the industry consultation sessions to stimulate discussion, however, the list was not intended to be exhaustive.

The meeting was then opened to the audience. In most cases participation started slowly, but the discussion gathered momentum as the meeting progressed. The facilitators did not make judgments on the quality of the ideas, but instead tried to make sure that all present agreed on the definition of the issues. When solutions were offered, they were recorded as actions that Transport Canada could undertake or that industry could assume.

Each participant was given a questionnaire that requested feedback on the benefit of the meeting and requested comments on safety issues. Respondents were encouraged to comment on issues raised at the meeting, and raise any new issues that crossed their minds after the meeting or concerns that they were not comfortable speaking openly about at the meeting. Feedback forms were given to the Task Force at the meeting or mailed, postage paid, to the SATOPS Task Force. Participants were also encouraged to take the questionnaires to people who could not attend the meeting but would like to comment on any safety issue of concern to them. A total of 230 questionnaires were submitted to the Task Force.

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