You may have wondered why your regulator has requested information on your operation when it is not a requirement. Regulators traditionally obtain information from occurrence reports, audits, permissions, applications, variations and exemptions. It may sound like a lot of information but does it provide enough to paint a picture of the operations and the hazards faced? Many times it does not. Some regulators can obtain operational data from other means such as industry organisations, other regulators or other government sources, although this does not always provide enough or the right information. Hence the requests, or search for more information from service providers.
So why does the regulator want this information to get that hazard picture? Aviation is increasingly complex, fast moving and growing. To maintain and improve aviation safety both regulators and service providers need to be more proactive and adaptive in identifying and addressing hazards. Using data to predict, identify, coordinate and focus resource on addressing hazards relevant to a particular service provider or groups of service providers better utilises the regulator’s resources and allows services providers to put their efforts into addressing hazards that are relevant to them.
The regulator can focus oversight on areas relevant to current or future hazards, adjust oversight visit timings and who they are to visit. It also provides an indication on areas of training the regulator may need to consider in order to keep its skill set relevant and on areas of regulation that require attention or further work.
So obtaining and carefully using this “other” data is important. Regulators can then ensure training is relevant, regulation is relevant and oversight is focussed on areas that will have a positive impact on safety. With relevant data, the regulator is also able to focus time and effort in discussing with service providers operational hazards that are real and relevant to them. Service providers benefit from this approach in that any work arising out of any oversight activities is more hazard based and more relevant to the service provider’s actual operation.
Data is therefore important in improving safety. In time this should enable a more effective degree of oversight to achieve the objective of maintaining and improving aviation safety.