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Airlines ask Canadian safety inspectors to sign confidentiality agreements

Safety Management Systems producing confusion as to who is responsible for air safety.

OTTAWA, February 26, 2009 — Recent disclosure that airlines are requesting civil aviation inspectors to sign confidentiality agreements is part of a new and disturbing trend. As the national union representing Canada's inspectors, the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE/PSAC) is supportive of any action by its inspector members in refusing to sign any such confidentiality agreements proposed by the airlines.

"We are pleased to hear that Transport Canada is also asking inspectors to refuse to sign such documents. It is plain wrong that anybody in the airline safety system would even consider such a measure. Somebody at Transport Canada needs to stand up to the airlines and tell them that the Minister is responsible for airline safety in Canada . . . period," says Christine Collins, UCTE National President.

UCTE believes that this kind of behaviour from the airlines is symptomatic of a much broader problem in the way in which Transport Canada is implementing Safety Management Systems (SMS) for the airline industry. As there is a clear lack of clarity and direction from the Minister, the airlines mistakenly think that everyone is working under their SMS licensing arrangement, including Inspectors working under Ministerial authority.

"One of the first sentences in the Aeronautics Act states clearly that the Minister of Transport is responsible for aviation safety in this country. Transport Canada Inspectors work under ministerial delegative authority. They are responsible to the Minister and are responsible to the Statute that they are empowered to enforce. Why the airlines would even feel justified in asking for such a measure is mystifying to me," says Kerry Williams, UCTE Vice President.

UCTE has made it clear to the Minister of Transport that there is a clear need for direct ministerial involvement in the SMS file at the present time. The union has requested a meeting with the Minister to work out a common plan of action on behalf of the travelling public.

Links and sources
  Airline confidentiality agreements shows there is serious confusion about Safety Management Systems , Group CNW, February 26 2009

Posted: February 26, 2009

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