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Codeshares and Safety Audits Air Safety Week
This article bothers me because it still shows that the press remains protective of swissair when it is obvious that the carrier installed a dangerous 'entertainment' system on its MD-11 fleet which very well may have caused the crash. It's beyond time for someone in the press to tell the TRUE story of swissair and the greed of it's executives. I think if the IFEN did cause sr111, the U.S. had plenty of reason to be concerned about this now bankrupt airline as a codeshare. JMHO and a few others. When did it become ok to take 229 human beings, experiment on them by offering them entertainment that could kill them and when it does (probably) not to have to be responsible at all? How dare they? What is the U.S. and the press thinking calling them a great airline?

Universal Standard for Safety Audits in Final Development

A new program of safety audits is being designed to assure that safety practices among code-share airlines are comparable. The program appears to be a variation on the worthy theme of a single level of safety.

Known as the International Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), the program is being spearheaded by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Capt. Jim Anderson, former head of flight safety at Delta Air Lines [DAL] is project manager for this IATA initiative.

Anderson said recent years have witnessed a sort of "audit frenzy" that may be creating more anarchy than comparability. "Everybody's auditing everybody today," he said. The effort is not trivial, with a typical audit consuming a week to complete. More than the investment in time, though, larger problems are involved. Overlapping, redundant audits are being conducted with no common standards, Anderson explained. The standards need to apply not only with respect to audit criteria, but to those doing the audits as well.

While overtly the idea is to promote a single universal and higher safety standard, liability concerns also lurk. A carrier with a substandard safety program can expose its code-share partner, through which the original ticket was purchased, to liability for safety shortcomings revealed in the aftermath of a crash.

"Code share is the original driver for this program," Anderson said. The first "heads up" to the problem occurred in the 1997 crash of Korean Air Lines (KAL) Flight 801 during a nighttime approach at Guam. It was a classic controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident. At the time, KAL was a code-share partner with Delta. "There were no Delta code-share passengers on board," Anderson recalled, but the case served to highlight the potential liability associated with code-share operations.

The 1998 fatal crash of Swissair Flight 111 was a "watershed event," Anderson recalled. Swissair had always been recognized for its impeccable operational integrity, but an uncontrolled in-flight fire doomed the accident airplane, an MD-11. Delta also operates a fleet of MD-11s. In the wake of this crash, Anderson said many lawsuits were filed against both Delta and Swissair on behalf of dead passengers, and who had purchased tickets through one of the two airlines.

The Swissair crash created the impetus for full-up audits of code-share partners and for the subsequent "audit frenzy" Anderson described.

The IOSA audit program is intended to regularize the process. "The program's initial purpose is to replace and improve upon the existing code-share audit system," Anderson explained. Over time, the program is envisioned as a vehicle to raise operational standards in eight major areas:

Organization and management
Flight operations
Operational control (dispatch)
Operational security
Cabin operations
Engineering and maintenance
Ground handling
Cargo and dangerous goods
Standards are in the final stages of development and the first trial audits are expected to be conducted in early 2003. They will be rated as either meeting the standard or not meeting standard. One of the challenges has been to set standards at a level that would challenge carriers with more rudimentary safety programs, while avoiding the danger of being considered insufficiently demanding for carriers with mature safety programs already in place.

These operational audits, Anderson cautioned, "are not regulatory and will have no effect on state regulatory oversight." In other words, regulatory minimums imposed by various governments still apply. >> For more on IOSA, see <<
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