Delta Air Lines restores Aviation Safety Action Program

Thursday, January 29, 2009, 17:15 by Aviation Correspondent

Delta Air Lines, based in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States, and the world’s largest airline, has reached an agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reinstate the voluntary programme that allows pilots to report openly concerns over safety.

The programme, called the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), was set up with a view to improving flight safety by providing better information about flight operations by identifying and resolving potential flight hazards and human errors. It allows and encourages individual flight crew members to admit mistakes without fear of being punished. The safety data is used to make corrections and educate the persons and groups concerned to prevent recurrence of the same type of event.

In addition to the reinstated ASAP, Delta said it has programmes in place for employees in the dispatch and technical operations sectors as well as safety reporting programmes for flight attendants and ground employees.

The Aviation Safety Action Program has been widely used in the airline industry since 1997. Aviation regulators and safety analysts have said that the programme had contributed to reduction in accident rate.

Delta Air Lines had allowed the Aviation Safety Action Program to lapse in December 2006, following a dispute with pilots over how the programme was administered.

Now, American Airlines, US Airways and Delta’s Comair are the only major United States-based passenger carriers whose pilots do not take part in the ASAP.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, the United States, had, in December 2008, said they were unable to reach agreements with pilot groups when they suspended their Aviation Safety Action Programs.

In a statement, the US Federal Aviation Administration, the agency of the United States Department of Transportation having authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the US, lauded the agreement reached between Delta Air Lines and the Air Line Pilots Association and also asked US Airways and American Airlines and the labour unions representing the employees of both airlines to resolve their differences and bring back the Aviation Safety Action Program.

The US media quoted United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as saying that “ASAP has proven to be a valuable tool in helping to spot possible safety problems before they become accidents.”

Steve Dickson, Delta Air Lines’ senior vice president of flight operations, said in a news release: “Safety always will be our highest core value, and programmes like the Aviation Safety Action Program are critical to identifying, understanding and correcting safety events to ensure a safe and reliable work environment and travel experience for our employees and customers.” Delta, Dickson added, was now the largest user of voluntary safety reporting systems, with six programmes covering about 17,000 employees.