Policies, Procedures, Rules and Regulations.
The aviation industry in its quest and commitment for providing safe and reliable commercial air transport is constantly coming up with policies, procedures rules and regulations to be followed by all industry players so as to be able to achieve this. The industry prides itself with being one of the safest modes of transport but is also prone to accidents and thus the need for rules and policies that not only applies to workers and air transport providers but to passengers also as the safety of a passenger is paramount. Air transport providers across the board are more or less in agreement over their commitment to passenger safety by striving to achieve the uppermost levels of safety and performance through a systematic and strategic administration of safety issues. Policies and procedures are fundamental components of any organization in achieving its goals and often provide frameworks for implementation of these policies by the concerned parties within the industry.
Aviation mishaps are a pilot’s most terrible nightmare or any passenger who has ever been on a plane. Agencies and organizations both state and private mandated with the task of ensuring safer skies, have established bureaus and databases that constantly work on collection of accident reports, investigations, weather reports, and much more information that can aid them in drawing up policies that ensure their commitment to passenger safety. The industry expects its players to identify, evaluate and handle hazards, impacts and threat from aviation actions, by learning form past experiences. Causes of aviation disasters vary to a great extent depending on particular situations and quandary that may come about at some point in the flight course.
Aviation in America is overseen by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) which handles a diversity of activities and has to come up with rules, regulations and policies that ensure an efficient and safe travel for passengers. An investigation into each and every accident that takes place is compulsory so as to determine the causes and also facilitate insurance claims and in some instances furnish court cases with evidence. Investigations are usually carried out following an accident to determine the cause. This is carried out by the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) among other related agencies which then come up with recommendations on policies and guidelines so as to avert future incidents from happening.
The agencies mainly accountable for supervising the aviation industry are the FAA and NTSB and are mandated with the supervision and investigation of aircraft crashes. They have put in place regulations and policies on safety principles for aircrew conduct, manufacturers, flight operators and other people related to the aviation industry. A regulation or policy that helps prevent accidents is the compulsory publishing of comprehensive investigation findings and recommendations and ensuring that a follow up to the proposed findings is undertaken and implemented. Airlines are constantly taking their personnel through trainings and upgrading of their skills and equipping them with safety training. This helps keep workers, from pilots, cabin crew, ground handlers to the air traffic controllers in top shape and skilled to handling incidents that keep on changing with the growth of the aviation sector.
Apart from the widely known causes of aircraft disasters such as human errors and mechanical failures, natural causes are also turning out to be more and more alarming in the industry due to the fact that they cannot be controlled, thus the constant emphasis on maintaining updated weather forecast databases. In fact human error is the most common cause of accidents in the aviation industry at about 37% of all accidents (1950-2004) and result in the most fatalities recorded. The NTSB and FAA have set up regulations that pilots should adhere to ensure passenger safety. The NTSB facilitates wide-ranging pilot training tailored to make them able to handle different situations as they emerge in-flight. Pilots who constantly make mistakes such as; faulty maneuvers, lack of planning or are just irresponsible, are discontinued from work. Studies reveal that a good number of pilots experience a rise in heart rate during landing and taking off and usually experience great amounts of pressure during flying and they are duty bound to ensure both personal safety and passenger safety on board. In case of pilot heart attacks, the air traffic control and flight crew are required to ensure passenger wellbeing.
American law also comes into play on determining who can fly a plane and under what conditions. The law prohibits pilots from drinking alcohol eight hours before a flight as they need to be at their best as concentration level needed is very high. The capability of a pilot to stay alert is prejudiced when he or she is inebriated. It also forbids epileptic people from flying planes due to the extreme effects of a seizure on a pilot. The FAA does not issue licenses to people suffering from epilepsy.
The NTSB strives for a pro-active deterrence of catastrophes and occurrences by all key industry players where its one and only objective is to advance passenger and airline safety and not to point blame or liability to other parties. This is through the upgrading of air safety by guaranteeing that appropriate data on safety is reported, compiled, stored, protected and circulated among all industry players.
Pilots are required to perform an absolute inspection of the aircraft before they take off to ascertain whether it is in good condition and it is safe to be in the air. This preflight check entails checking gauges and instrument panels and the whole plane so as to ensure utmost passenger safety. Another point to note is that aviation agencies and airline owner’s insistence on training their pilots and crew on managing engine malfunction in-flight. Engine failure can turn catastrophic in just a few minutes an result in air crashes. Air traffic controllers are also required to be alert and vigilant as they are more or less the same with pilots and any slack may cause accidents. Various airlines have gathered weather reports and are constantly updating them on the changes in weather patterns. These reports are made available to pilots before a flight is undertaken and also pre-flight briefings on how to react and solutions to take in case of any eventuality that may occur are conducted.
It's extremely essential that pilots stick to stringent safety standards in order to guarantee maximum level of safety for the aircraft's passengers and crew. “Pilot training standards vary in terms of their specific course outline, but the following is the accepted and accredited template adopted by commercial airlines within the United States: An airline pilot must have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time, including at least 250 hours flying as a pilot in command of an aircraft. Pilots must demonstrate their flying skills to an FAA examiner by performing various types of takeoffs and landings, in-flight maneuvers, and emergency procedures, either in an airplane or a simulator. They must pass a written exam testing their knowledge of aircraft operations, meteorology, navigation, radio communication and other subjects important to flying aircraft in commercial service. Pilots also must pass a medical exam, which includes psychological and aptitude tests”. Wolfe & NewMyer(1985)
The FAA has a list of guidelines for airlines to adhere to and ensure flight safety, this includes: airline are supposed to provide for enough more time to check in passengers, this is due to the high level of security threats; passengers are not allowed to board planes with certain items such as knives, cutting instruments, ice picks, metal scissors, golf clubs, ski poles and hockey sticks. Some of the reasons that led the NTSB, FAA and other agencies to draw, policies, rules and guidelines that regulate the aviation industry is first and foremost, passenger, crew and airplane safety. Others may include: defective aircraft equipment and mechanical breakdowns, design faults on airplanes- manufacturers of aircraft are accountable for an aviation mishap if the structural design of the aircraft is defective, ensuing in plane crashes, sloppy maintenance of aircraft and refueling, air traffic controllers’ inattention in monitoring airways. All this are also common causes of aviation accidents.
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National Transport Safety Board, http://www.ntsb.gov/
Wolfe, H.P &. NewMyer, D. A (1985). Aviation industry regulation. New York, NY: SIU Press.