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On Air, Issue 10: Annual Safety Conference Special - Editorial

New Technologies & New Business models

Technologies have changed the way we live and the way we do business. Technologies develop in a very rapid pace. In the 90’s we were using faxes and telex and now we cannot imagine our professional life without emails. But how can we make innovation safe? How can regulators accomplish with innovation?

Of course innovation is in the DNA of aviators. Flying today has nothing to do with the way we did 50 years ago, the airplanes and aircraft technologies as well as the components of the aviation system have experimented the more spectacular changes as the use of composite materials, the level of optimization of engines’ performance, the use of electronic systems or the automation in cockpit components.

Sometimes “more Safety” is the enemy of “Safety”. When we are banning, when we do not want to put equipment on board light aircraft just because they are not certified I think we are not increasing the level of safety. Whereas we could bring in some aircraft some uncertified components which will increase the level of safety for small planes.

Innovation is not only technological and in fact, being innovative doesn’t mean being revolutionary. It is also innovate in the way we do business and organise ourselves. So the question is, can we regulators be flexible enough to adapt to these business changes? Of course we are trying to adapt to the challenges the new societies are facing and cope with the level of change. We are also innovating in our field, also because we have challenges of our own: less resources, we are faced with more and more technical and complex issues that need to be solved.

Therefore in order to continue perform our work on those topics we need to innovate. We are increasingly inventing on risk based oversight, data analysis and try to be involved upfront in research programmes.

We are also trying to adapt ourselves quickly to the changes in the field. General Aviation (GA) is a very good example for it. We are trying to be as flexible as possible to tackle the challenges GA is facing. We do believe that it is not necessarily trough regulation to increase the level of safety but it is also though safety promotion, through communication. We are trying to adapt to the needs of the market and the society, but also to the fact that young pilots in GA have less patience to read the complex books and rules; they are more interested in being trained in applications on their smartphones or tablets.

We need to make sure that we keep the pace with the evolution of our societies. Our main challenge is to move from prescriptive rules to rules that enable innovation to take place. Instead of saying “you have to do this and that” when you design an aircraft, we have to say “you have to design an aircraft that is safe”. As an example, we have revised the Certification Specifications for Light Aircraft (CS.23) with our colleagues from the FAA. It was a tremendous effort. We went down from 699 prescriptive design requirements to 67 high level safety objectives.
This is the way we should go, and the way we can enable innovation to take place. But this is not the only way. So we will be pleased to learn with and from you how to adapt better to the challenges of this new world.”

Patrick KY’s Welcome speech extract at the EASA Annual Safety Conference 2016 “New Technologies & New Business models: Meeting the expectations of a changing aviation industry” in Bratislava, 25th October 2016