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Launched Aug 26 1996.
Source: Editorial Desk, International Society of Air Safety Investigators' forum,
By I.J.Rimson, Editorial Director
More than a thousand persons died in commercial air transportation system failures in 1996, the worst record in the history of the industry. Little has been done to prevent repetition in 1997.
What can ISASI do, if anything, to help effect credible prevention strategies? I propose that in 1997 ISASI:
Work to erase artificial distinctions between "government safety investigators" and the rest of the community. All air safety investigators, whether they represent governments, manufacturers, airlines, airline employee unions, insurer, or forgive me attorneys, should be held to common objectives, methodologies and procedures which can withstand critical scrutiny.
Establish criteria which define what an Air Safety Investigator is, does, and needs to know to do it. Today there are no criteria for competence as an "Air Safety Investigator". Let's face reality: education, training and experience standards for approving barbers and embalmers are more rigorous in all 50 US states than they are for air safety investigators. Furthermore, we must demand demonstrated professional competence at all levels. It is absurd to complain about ignorant political appointees while senior staff "professionals" are selected without regard to prerequisite qualification.
Publicly expose those agencies and persons responsible for obstructing prevention. Our 1996 experiences demonstrate vividly that misguided regulatory policies enable managerial ineptitude, and perpetuate obsolete technical concepts and practices. Investigation authorities compete for prestige by rushing to prejudgment, publicly squabbling over the detritus of bent metal and torn flesh while potential scientific evidence is lost or heedlessly destroyed.
Oppose politically-inspired dissipation of investigative assets into areas beyond the missions and capabilities of investigation professionals. Investigators' responsibilities are hard enough to fulfill objectively and dispassionately without forced emotional confrontation interjecting subjectivity and potential bias.
Above all, goad the leaders of US government investigative agencies to cooperate with the rest of the world's investigators within ISASI toward the goal of mutual improvement. ISASI's Corporate Membership currently includes only one US agency. It is not the NTSB or FAA; the Transportation, Treasury, Energy or Commerce Departments; Defense Department, Army, Navy or Air Force; or any US government agency primarily interested in air safety. The sole US government agency Corporate Member is the Agriculture Department's Forest Service. Where are the others?