FAA calls for focus on safety amid wave of new flying technology

If aviation isn’t safe, then it doesn’t matter how exciting it is.”

This is the main message that acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Billy Nolen conveyed in his opening remarks at the 2022 FAA-European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) International Aviation Safety Conference on June 15, 2022 at Washington, DC.

“Change has always been constant. But in aviation, it’s happening faster and faster. We’re seeing tremendous levels of new technology and innovation in this industry. If aviation isn’t safe, then it doesn’t matter how exciting it is; or what the promised benefits are,” said Nolan, who has been acting as FAA administrator since April 2022.

Acknowledging breakthroughs in aviation technology such as drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), popularly dubbed flying taxis, Nolen emphasized the need for safety vigilance.

“As a global aviation community, we must continue to work together to address all safety concerns, so that we can enable these game-changing innovations, in a way that is seamless around the world.”

Using the aphorism of “a rising tide lifts all boats”, Nolen went on to say that any improvements in aviation safety by North America and Europe will also benefit the rest of the world.

“When we create ways to improve safety in aviation, we can share that knowledge to lift safety all across the world,” Nolen said.

“Americans, and increasingly every person across the globe, expect the high level of safety that we have in North America and Europe … they expect that in every airspace.”

Nolen also reaffirmed the importance of Safety Management Systems (SMS) and its role on the safety evaluations of the 737 MAX aircraft, which the FAA and EASA had worked closely together on.

“In the FAA, we’ve seen the benefits of SMS in driving down safety risk for commercial aviation, which is why we are working to expand SMS requirements to manufacturers, airports, and aviation service providers,” Nolen said.

Nolen also addressed the topic of pilots’ mental health, saying that the FAA firmly believes there should be no stigma, or fears, about coming forward and being open about mental health challenges.

Nolen said: “When it comes to pilot mental health, or other safety issues, we’ve learned that being open, transparent and proactive has been the key to our success.”

The 2022 FAA-EASA aviation safety conference is being held from June 14-16, 2022. It brings together regulators, aerospace industry representatives, and other stakeholders from around the world to share aviation safety information, address current areas of mutual concern, and identify future collaborative opportunities with the global community.

 

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