The EU has recently published a study on the evaluation of Regulation (EU) No 376/2014 on the reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences in civil aviation.
The European Commission is undertaking an ex-post evaluation of the Regulation. This study provides the EC with 18 recommendations and an analytically robust ex-post evaluation of Regulation (EU) No 376/2014 that resulted in 18 evidence-based recommendations for improvement.
Deep Blue participated in the activities of desk research, stakeholders interviews, and definition of case studies to present the evidence. The targeted interviews involved CAAs, safety investigation authorities, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), industry sectors and associations. Also, the case studies definition covered different sectors: ATC, CAT operations, general aviation, UAS, and ground handling.
Regulation (EU) No 376/2014: increasing safety
Entered into force in November 2015, Regulation (EU) No 376/2014 has brought about an increase in the level of reporting. It has also enabled a considerable improvement in the quality and completeness of the occurrences. In addition, the study provides indications that the increase in reporting related to the introduction of the Regulation played a role (at least minor, to be conservative) in decreasing the rate of accidents per million flights. The increased reporting directly improved safety awareness, identification of safety risks and boost of safety promotion.
However, several factors have been hampering the effectiveness of the reporting process. Notably, for example, the time and effort associated with the extensive requirements for reporting, as disclosed by the vivid feedback provided by almost all targeted stakeholders involved in the study.
For this reason, the study provides a series of possible areas of improvement that could reduce said hampering effects. For instance, impacting the list of mandatory data fields and the relevancy for reporting organisations could improve the process. The same goes for the timelines for reporting and analysis, as well as the workload for competent authorities to collect, process and store occurrences.
Obviously, the feedback collected from different stakeholders did not always align. Discrepancies emerged depending on role, safety culture maturity, and legislations at national and local level of the stakeholders involved. They highlighted positive and negative elements as well, and so different expectations for the review of the Regulation emerged clearly.
In the end, the present study managed to synthesize the different opinions into 18 shared recommendations and 5 case studies to better assess the potential impact of changes in the Regulation.
Regulation (EU) No 376/2014 and “Just Culture”
The Regulation has also successfully established rules on access rights to the data contained in the European Central Repository (ECR). Therefore, it brought the concept of “just culture” to the forefront of stakeholders’ minds and across European industry domains.
“Just Culture” is a culture in which front-line operators and others are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions they take as long as they are commensurate with their experience and training. On the other hand, gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated (see the Just Culture Manifesto).
Therefore, a Regulation that focuses on the reporting and analysis of occurrences in civil aviation should enable a blame-free culture. Indeed, Regulation (EU) No 376/2014 requires each organisation established in a Member State to implement, guarantee, and maintain “just culture”. In addition, it mandates that safety-critical information stored in the ECR is accessed adequately by competent authorities, and that it is used strictly for safety improvement purposes.
“Just Culture”: are we there yet?
The study results show, however, that almost all Member States have been unable to comply with the requirements. In particular, they failed to establish advance administrative arrangements with their respective judicial authorities to manage the access to and the use of occurrence reports contained in the national databases. Also, “just culture” is not (yet) fully implemented because there is no harmonised approach to implementation across the EU. In some cases, a Member State has its own legal system that EU rules cannot override. And anyways, a Regulation simply cannot regulate culture within an organisation.
As Deep Blue, we believe that “just culture” is extremely valuable and that Regulation (EU) No 376/2014 should reinforce it. For this reason, we keep supporting organisations in adopting the Regulation principles. For example, we help them implement and maintain “just culture” in their internal processes and manuals. We can also assist companies in setting up a “just culture” committee based on transparent criteria, and disseminate and promote the concept within the organisations.