The aim of a Just Culture is to promote continuous learning from previous mistakes and to encourage pilots to openly and freely share essential safety related information. Civil aviation safety is sustained by a culture which fosters and facilitates the reporting of occurrences and advances the principles of a Just Culture.
Our approach is one in which people are treated fairly and are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions taken by them that are commensurate with their experience and training.
We recognise that Just Culture is an essential element of a broader safety culture, which forms the basis of a robust safety management system. The CAA embraces safety culture principles, including Just Culture, and notes that outcomes from this and similar processes result, in the large majority of cases, in purely educational or training activities.
However, to maintain or improve aviation safety in cases of, for example, gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts, further action may be necessary. When addressing safety-related issues within a Just Culture, it is vital that investigations and decisions are fair and timely and that all reasonable efforts are made by the CAA to decide upon remedial actions without delay.
Our ambition is for the GA and RPAS community to feel they can openly report any incidents to the CAA without fear of punishment and the information they provide will be used for safety mitigation purposes and guidance only. Where a pilot is found negligent that regulatory action may be deemed appropriate.
We acknowledge that in some cases we have been viewed with suspicion, mistrust and considered to be unapproachable.
We have learnt that there was a common view in some areas that in the event a pilot is the subject of an occurrence they would automatically have their licence revoked, which was and remains not the case.
We have taken steps to address these concerns and are working towards the goal of resolving both feelings of negativity and instilling confidence with the authority over the management of reported occurrences.
The ICG has undergone a number of improvements to support the work undertaken in respect to infringement investigation by the CAA. Each ICG meeting operates with a range of expertise present from across a variety of domains including GA pilots, air traffic controllers, flight examiners thereby ensuring each case is reviewed by a high and fair level of expertise.
The process we use when dealing with infringements (set out in CAP 1404) has also undergone a review to ensure the decisions reached by the ICG are fair by conforming with the severity level of each infringement. The ICG now also has two Joint-Chairs, with one working within the GA Unit. This now means that a representative from the GA Unit will always be in attendance at the ICG, reviewing each case and agreeing the mitigating guidance. We have also set out more background to how we deal with infringements and the level of cases https://www.caa.co.uk/commercial-industry/airspace/airspace-infringements/
We have taken positive steps to become more open and engaged. Through the appointment of a Just Culture Champion assigned from within the GA/RPAS Unit who is actively engaged with organisations such as CHIRP as well as being co-chair of the Infringement Coordination Group (ICG).
Through being co-chair of the ICG there is now consistent GA representation at each meeting and consequently involvement with the decision making of each case reviewed.
Data from each submitted occurrence report is routinely categorised and the statistics are used to identify safety trends and where necessary implement safety mitigating measures. To assist with this approach the CAA created its internal Occurrence Reporting Governance Group with the aim of ensuring there is a standardised approach within the whole of the CAA in respect to the legal compliance with Regulation (EU)376. Regulation (EU)376 covers the reporting, analysis & follow-up of occurrence in civil aviation in which the CAA should be compliant and still applies in the UK as it forms the basis of open reporting as outlined by a Just Culture By undertaking these steps the GA community can be re-assured that all reported safety incidents are treated seriously, and the information used to improve safety.