At Safety Forum, Sturgell asks for trust

Here’s a link to the transcript of Bobby Sturgell’s speech at the FAA’s International Safety Forum in Washington today. An excerpt:

I’d like to leave you with a challenge. We must try to educate people to understand that the system is risk based and that our focus should be on the high risks and the high-consequence events. If we don’t, it’s going to get harder and harder to do the things we need to. We run the risk of working at things of lesser importance. I think that at the core of all this is partnership. In a system that’s as complex as the one we’re here to discuss, there must be familiarity and trust at all levels and across all entities, specifically industry and government. We know the “gotcha” approach drives safety issues underground … which is where they’ll stay until the next accident.

Thanks to partnership, technology and procedures, we have successfully eliminated or reduced risk in many areas. We know, for example, that precision brings safety, and technology is often the key to precision. We see that with RNP/RNAV. But technology and new procedures notwithstanding, there are still remaining risks we still need to tackle. We’re doing everything we can technology-wise on our runways, but it still comes down to the human element. When you’re told to hold short, will you? In a society that expects no risk, we’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can.

The fact is we do not have a risk-free system. But life is risky. You prepare, you drill, you equip, you train, you modify, make mistakes, learn from them, and correct things. And you share information, you eliminate known hazards, you flag potential weaknesses, you guard against them. Most importantly, you recognize that the antidote to fear generated by risk is trust.


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