Compartimos este interesante artículo aparecido el03 de Diciembre del 2012 en el Newsletter of Aviation Industry News (UBM Aviation); este tema lo hemos mencionado reiterativamente en nuestros cursos y seminarios, la mejor herramienta dentro de un SMS es la elaboración de los reportes de peligros a tiempo, creando una cultura proactiva de seguridad en toda la organización.
Víctor Manuel del Castillo
“… the only way our industry can do everything possible to prevent such a tragedy from happening again is not through criminalisation of professional human error, but by strongly encouraging the exchange of safety information essential to detecting hazards before accidents occur.”
With the above statement the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) has embraced the decision of a French court to quash convictions against Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics for the Air France Concorde crash 12 years ago which killed 113 people in Paris.
Continental itself is evidently relieved that the stray bit of metal which dropped off one of its aircraft onto Concorde’s route to take-off has morphed from being a cause of involuntary manslaughter to one of mere civil responsibility. The airline, which had argued that Concorde was alight before it ever tripped over the strip, may now be able to shake off the feeling of being scapegoated on behalf of the French airline industry, although Air France is still in hot pursuit via a commercial tribunal.
For John Taylor, though, the reappraisal of the incident is a lot more personal. As the Continental mechanic who fitted the offending piece of titanium (kind of), Taylor was landed with a 15-month prison sentence, albeit suspended. He has now been relieved of his criminal conviction, if not the stain on his reputation and, perhaps, the burden on his conscience.
ALPA’s argument is that the threat of criminal prosecution against industry professionals “who only seek to perform their jobs while maintaining the highest levels of safety” will discourage the sharing of information which underpins the “proactive safety culture” which can address risks before they turn into incidents.
Aside from the question of whether Taylor was indeed “maintaining the highest levels of safety”, looking at the broader issue it’s unclear how ALPA’s “data sharing” would have prevented a crash in the Concorde case even if this policy is to be encouraged more generally.
As for personal liability, instinctively it seems a little harsh to slap a prison sentence on a solitary individual whose mistakes at the start of an extended chain of events led to a larger crisis. But if a doctor can be legally held to account for bungling an operation, it stands to reason that a “plane doctor”, a mechanic, bears similar responsibility.
Ultimately, though, who wins when industry professionals are turned into criminals?
Joanne Perry, Assistant Editor, Aircraft Technology Engineering & Maintenance