The New Occurrence Reporting in a Nutshell
The fear of prosecution or reprisals at company level after reporting an event is still very much present nowadays in some airlines and it discourages aviation staff to report occurrences. The consequence: insufficient occurrence reporting, broken feed-back loop and reduced ability to pro-actively achieve safety improvements by learning from the past. This is why much effort is invested to encourage aviation professionals to report safety matters.
The new EU Occurrence Reporting Regulation EU 376/2014 is one key step in this direction. Applicable as of 15 Nov 2015, it requires aviation organisations to adopt and maintain a proactive Just Culture to facilitate the collection of key safety data and information and to protect the reports as well as the information.
But can we really expect any changes to the daily life of an airline pilot?
The new legislation in brief
The new Occurrence Reporting Regulation (EU Reg. 376/2014) is a comprehensive framework and a set of standards for reporting, collecting, storing, protecting and disseminating the relevant safety information. It also introduces requirements on information analysis and adoption of follow-up safety actions at national level.
- Stricter and broader protection: not only is the occurrence reporter better protected against the inappropriate use of safety information but all people mentioned in the report. Of particular importance is that contract pilots benefit from the same confidentiality rules and the same protection regarding the misuse of information.
- Internal company rules to implement Just Culture: Just Culture-related provisions constitute a central pillar of the new reporting system. This is why the Regulation specifies explicitly that airlines, after consulting their staff representatives, must adopt internal rules describing how ‘Just Culture’ principles are guaranteed and implemented within the organisation. The Regulation also provides that each Member State will establish a body responsible for monitoring the implementation of Just Culture at company level, and to which employees and contracted personnel may report alleged infringements to their rights.
- Updated list of mandatory reporting items, including fatigue (see the full list in the official text)
- Possibility to report directly to the national authority or to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), instead of the airline: If, for whatever reason, the pilot prefers to report directly to the national civil aviation authority or to EASA (www.aviationreporting.eu), he or she is free to do so.
- Voluntary reporting scheme: The new regulation creates two complementary reporting flows with the responsibilities for each organisation to also establish a voluntary reporting system. If an event is not in the mandatory occurrence reporting list, but you do consider it might have safety implications, it can be reported voluntarily through a dedicated and separate system. As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, report!
Just Culture definition
The regulation defines Just Culture as “A culture in which frontline operators or others are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions taken by them that are commensurate with their experience and training, but where gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated.”
Why is it important to us, pilots?
For us – as pilots – the new Occurrence Reporting system means two things: Rights & Responsibilities.
It brings additional protection for the “reporter”: the one who is responsible for feeding the system will be protected against incrimination or attribution of blame.
But it also brings another important responsibility for us: to feed the aviation system with relevant information. This is key to understanding where the risks are, detecting ‘weak signals’, hazards and/or emerging safety trends. Through this, we effectively contribute to the prevention of incidents and accidents. Without our input, the system won’t work.