Asian airlines push for safety reforms

Safety issues loomed large at the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines’ (AAPA) Assembly of Presidents, which concluded in Tokyo today.

Resolutions on information sharing, air traffic management, surveillance and health pandemics demonstrate the new challenges emerging for Asia’s – and the world’s – carriers.

The emphasis on safety follows the loss of flights MH370 and MH17 earlier this year.

“AAPA urges governments to improve efforts in the sharing of accurate intelligence and information related to flight safety on a global basis and to support the development of an augmented distribution system for the enhanced sharing of conflict zone risk information,” the association said in its concluding statement.

In a thinly-veiled attack on Russia, the AAPA also urged governments to “identify and bring to justice those accountable for aggressive acts against civil aviation”.

AAPA director-general Andrew Herdman addresses the Assembly of Presidents
AAPA director-general Andrew Herdman addresses the Assembly of Presidents

In terms of future accident prevention measures, the AAPA said it is keen to build on the industry’s existing safety management systems.

“The present Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) system remains fit for this purpose, but could benefit from further enhancement,” said AAPA director-general, Andrew Herdman.

But the loss of these two flights, especially MH370, has also underlined the difficulties in tracking and locating aircraft which have lost contact with the ground.

The response to this, both from governments and airlines, is still evolving, and is complicated by the fact that some remote regions and oceans are beyond the range of existing surveillance systems.

But the association urged governments and stakeholders to strengthen and periodically test established procedures to respond to lost or distressed aircraft. On top of this it urged aerospace manufacturers to develop improved location and data retrieval systems. Herdman warned however, that discussions about aviation safety are “quite complex”.

On the issue of Ebola, Herdman said the outbreak “has not had an impact on airlines in the region”, but urged cooperation with World Health Organisation.

This would include a “focus on outbound screening” from the departure airport, rather than inbound screening at destinations. Herdman also advised governments to “seriously consider” the implications of potentially disruptive travel advisories.


Michael Mackey reports for Travel Daily Asia from the AAPA Assembly of Presidents in Tokyo

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