Flight 2005

Oct. 1, 2000

Flight 2005

Transport Canada's strategic direction for the next five years

By Jacqueline Booth-Bourdeau October 2000

It is a paradox of government that essentially the regulator, as James Reason puts it, is "Dammed if they do and dammed if they don't." People rarely like being bound within the constraints of regulations; on the other hand, government is one the first organizations we look towards when an accident occurs. Indeed, one of the reasons Transport Canada has moved towards a performance based regulatory system is to provide a more flexible framework for organizations to operate within; while retaining the core raison d'etre of the regulator - ensuring safety.
Transport Canada has attempted to take this one step further with the publication of Flight 2005: A Civil Aviation Safety Framework for Canada. Essentially, this is a planning document that highlights the specific direction the Civil Aviation Program will take over the course of the next five years. In essence, this document defines our operating principles and values, provides safety targets, and shows what the key results will be. Perhaps more importantly though, by outlining our Evolving Directions, we are defining the nature of our relationship with the industry and our other stakeholders. In effect, we are addressing the regulator's paradox in a proactive and manageable way. We are defining the changing role of the regulator in the safety equation.

Evolving Directions
If we look more closely at the Evolving Directions, it is clear that our focus is shifting; we are refining our role as the overseer. Our Evolving Directions are:
• Aviation Safety Data - Adopting a data-driven approach in developing strategies to enhance safety
• Resource Allocation - Using a risk-based approach to resource allocation for regulatory activities
• Partnerships - Emphasizing the consultative approach with the aviation community to promote and establish a pervasive safety
• Safety Management - Implementing safety management systems in aviation organizations
• Human and Organizational Factors - Taking account of human and organizational factors in safety management practices
• Communications - Proactively communicating with targeted audiences on aviation safety

By promoting the adoption of a safety management paradigm within industry, we are effectively promoting a systemic approach to safety. The aim here is to improve safety through proactive management rather than reactive compliance with regulatory requirements. The industry will be required to assess its own safety level and will take the appropriate action to correct any internal problems. The regulator will verify that the system meets the intent of the CARs.
Taking this one step further, Transport Canada has made a commitment to adopt a safety management approach to the way we do business. We will be focusing attention on developing valid and practical means of evaluating strategic and operational decisions, work processes, organizational culture, communications and system design. We will be using data to conduct a more sophisticated analysis of the information available with a view to pinpointing where safety interventions are most needed. These interventions will be based on sound risk management techniques so as to ensure the greatest potential for enhancing safety.

Safety indicators and targets
Finally, we have established safety indicators and targets based on two key results:
• Continued improvement on the high level of aviation safety in Canada
• A high level of public confidence in our civil aviation program

The safety targets are an indication of the efficacy of our programs. Our success will be measured through a careful analysis of changes in the accident rate over the next five years.
Of course, there are drawbacks to defining our strategic direction; particularly when one includes specific targets that form a baseline by which we, and the industry, will measure our progress. On the other hand, if we do not challenge the status quo, we will never raise the safety bar and meet future challenges in an anticipatory manner. We have also been careful to set realistic expectations of what we can and cannot achieve. For example, in the airline operations section (CAR 705 operators) our target is a 40 percent reduction in the 5-year accident rate average, which at present is 0.7 accidents per 100,000 hours. Our ultimate goal, of course, is zero accidents; however, we have to set objectives that are both a challenge to the industry to excel beyond these goals and a baseline indicator by which to measure our performance.

Developing the plan
Flight 2005 was not developed in isolation - we consulted extensively with our stakeholders and members of the Civil Aviation Directorate. As such, the methodology by which we achieve these goals is already in place. From Transport Canada's perspective, each branch has provided a set of initiatives with specific objectives and target dates that will contribute to the attainment of the key results in Flight 2005. In regards to the Aircraft Maintenance and Manufacturing Branch, our contribution encompasses a comprehensive regulatory package including human factors and safety management programs, as well as education and awareness initiatives.
Moving forward
Flight 2005 defines our strategic direction for the next five years. Perhaps more importantly, however, it provides a starting point for Transport Canada and the industry to form a new relationship. Of course, we realize that at times this will not be easy. We must achieve this transition in a period of massive growth for the aviation industry in Canada. In an atmosphere of finite resources, globalization and Canada's geographic diversity, we are promoting an atmosphere of consultation, innovation and realism.
It has been said that "An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought." Transport Canada has provided the safety framework - the idea; it is the industry's role to build the model - the thought, in the way that is most appropriate to their individual needs and realities.