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Fact Sheet – Safer Skies

For Immediate Release

March 26, 2001
Contact: Alison Duquette, FAA; Michael Wascom, ATA
Phone: 202-267-3462; 202-783-9362

What is Safer Skies?

In 1998, the FAA announced a major initiative to achieve significant reductions in fatal accidents by 2007. Concentrating its resources on the most prevalent causes of aircraft accidents, Safer Skies uses a disciplined, data driven approach to find root causes and determine the best actions to break the chain of events that lead to accidents. Safer Skies consists of three teams with similar goals to improve aviation safety:

  • The Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) aims to reduce the commercial aviation accident rate by 80 percent by 2007. CAST focuses on the leading causes of commercial aviation fatalities:
    • uncontained engine failures
    • controlled flight into terrain
    • approach and landing
    • loss of control
    • runway incursions
    • weather (including turbulence)
  • The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee(GA JSC) aims to eliminate the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of accidents by 2007. This committee focuses on the leading causes of general aviation accidents:
    • controlled flight into terrain
    • weather
    • pilot decision making
    • loss of control
    • survivability
    • runway incursions
  • Partners in Cabin Safety have completed work in the following areas:
    • child restraints – The FAA is drafting proposal to require the use of child safety seats. In the interim, the FAA continues its Turbulence Happens public education campaign on the use of child restraints and seat belts.
    • passenger seat belt use – The FAA continues its public education campaign and industry continues to encourage passengers to wear their seat belt at all times.
    • carry-on baggage – The FAA, industry and the luggage manufacturers association produced an information brochure that’s available through a variety of sources such as the Internet, in bags, at travel agents. The "Think Smart, Think Small, Think Safe" brochure explains that space is limited in airplane cabins, offers tips and reminds travelers about their role in cabin safety. The FAA has also had the airlines clarify their carry on baggage programs.
    • unruly passengers — Interfering with the duties of a crewmember violates federal law. Passengers who engage in unruly behavior can be fined by the FAA or prosecuted on criminal charges. As of last year, the FAA can now propose up to $25,000 per violation for unruly passenger cases. Previously, the maximum civil penalty per violation was $1,100. One incident can result in multiple violations. The FAA continues to work with FBI, local law enforcement, airlines, and crewmembers to help prepare cases that the Justice Department can then prosecute. The agency has also issued guidance to airlines containing examples for managing and reducing instances of unruly passenger.

What is CAST?

CAST is one element of the FAA's Safer Skies initiative to achieve significant reductions in fatal accidents by 2007. Established in 1997, the mission of CAST is to develop and focus implementation of an integrated, data driven strategy to improve aviation safety leading to an 80% reduction in fatal accidents in the United States by 2007. A similar reduction in the international accident rate is a long-term goal of CAST.

Founded as an industry initiative, CAST has since merged with ongoing government safety efforts. It is now part of the commercial aviation portion of the FAA’s Safer Skies agenda. Safer Skies also includes initiatives to improve general aviation and cabin safety.

Who is CAST?

CAST is co-chaired by Peggy Gilligan, deputy associate administrator for the FAA's Office of Regulation and Certification and Mac Armstrong, vice president, operations and safety for the Air Transport Association (ATA). CAST is comprised of representatives from government and industry. Other key organizations participate in CAST meetings as observers.

Government CAST members

  • European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA)
  • FAA
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA)

Employee Group CAST members

  • Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
  • Allied Pilots Association (APA)
  • International Federation of Air Line Pilots (IFALPA)
  • National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA)

Industry CAST members

  • Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)
  • Airbus Industries
  • Air Transport Association (ATA)
  • The Boeing Company
  • Flight Safety Foundation (FSF)
  • International Air Transport Association (IATA)
  • Pratt & Whitney (also representing General Electric and Rolls-Royce)
  • Regional Airline Association (RAA)

Who is the GA Joint Steering Committee?

Established by Safer Skies in 1998, the GA Joint Steering Committee aims to eliminate an entire year’s worth of accidents by 2007. The team is co-chaired by Kathy Perfetti, FAA National Resource Specialist for Parks and Part 135 Operations, Flight Standards Service and Jack Olcott, president, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

Government GA Joint Committee members

  • FAA
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Industry GA Joint Committee members

  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
  • Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
  • General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)
  • Helicopter Association International (HAI)
  • National Air Transportation Association (NATA)
  • National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)

How does Safer Skies work?

Safer Skies uses a disciplined, data driven, focused approach of:

  • Analysis of past accidents/incidents
  • Identification of accident precursors
  • Development of specific interventions to address precursors
  • Implementation of the interventions
  • Tracking implementation for effectiveness
  • Using knowledge gained to continually improve the aviation system.

Both CAST and the GA Joint Steering Committee charter working groups for in-depth analysis of the top accident categories in commercial and general aviation. They then identify "intervention strategies" to reduce such accidents and prioritize and coordinate plans for implementing and, finally, monitoring actual implementation and effectiveness.

Senior-level safety officials from CAST and GA Joint Steering Committee organizations attend meetings in Washington, D.C. that are directed by government and industry co-chairs. They set overall policy, charter and oversee the activities of three types of working groups: Joint Safety Analysis Teams (JSATs), Joint Safety Implementation Teams (JSITs), and Joint Implementation Monitoring Teams (JIMTs).

Each JSAT performs in-depth analysis of a particular accident category. Following a prescribed analytical format that has been independently validated, JSAT examines the chain of events leading up to each accident studied, then identifies ways to break those accident chains. The intervention strategies are then evaluated for their effectiveness in preventing accidents.

A JSIT, on the other hand, determines the feasibility of the intervention strategies identified by the JSATs. In addition, each JSIT develops and recommends a plan of action for industry and government to implement the recommended strategies

Both JSATs and JSITs report back to the full CAST and GA Joint Steering Committee which have final review and approval authority over all reports and can request an independent validation of the conclusions.

JIMTs monitor the implementation of the safety interventions and suggest modifications and changes to the safety strategy to CAST.

Global Strategy

Although most participants are from the United States, CAST recognizes that raising the aviation safety bar to a higher level requires a global effort.

Aviation is an international business. Accident rates and causes vary by region and do not lend themselves to "cookie-cutter" solutions. With that in mind, CAST coordinates with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), International Air Transport Association (IATA), European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), Transport Canada and other organizations. CAST is establishing links to other safety initiatives, such as the European Joint Safety Strategy Initiative. CAST promotes new government/industry safety initiatives where appropriate. Examples of programs underway are ICAO's Global Aviation Safety Program, JAA's Safety Strategy Initiative and the Pan American Aviation Safety Team.


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