In recent times there has been a reduction in the availability of qualified individuals to provide operational management, mentoring and oversight in the charter and low capacity regular public transport sector due to airline recruitment. (see item B)
The availability of skilled, resourceful and experienced individuals to undertake the roles of safety manager, check and training, chief pilots, instructors and business managers is also in short supply.
Given the decades of relative stability in the airline sector prior to 2001, the industry is not well supplied with managers at middle and senior level who have had experience in managing risks associated with considerable change.
Indicators are emerging that general aviation and the low to medium capacity regular public transport and charter sectors of passenger transport are increasingly affected by a growing shortage of experienced and skilled personnel in all categories including maintenance (item C).
Many of the major regulators in Europe are desperately short of operations inspectors, and the government budget austerity measures being taken across Europe will likely take the situation from desperate to dangerous.
- Loss of design, operational, and maintenance knowledge
- Knowledge of why aircraft are designed as such, how key maintenance is to be performed, and why the operational rules are as they are not being retained by individual or organizational memory. Contributing factors include
- long product design cycle times
- extended product life
- increasing staff turn over.
- Difficult to access legacy data storage systems
- Inability of some operators to attract and retain senior people to mentor, guide and direct the less experienced and maintain safety systems
- Wholesale retirements within the current generation of aviation professionals
- Shortage of qualified inspectors and flight examiners
- The loss of experience, safety culture, and tribal knowledge may be a bigger issue than overwork and fatigue.
The longevity of aircraft designs requires access to design records that may only exist in hardcopy or software archives that are not compatible with modern data access software. Identification of safety-sensitive information within difficult to access legacy data storage systems will remain a significant challenge.
There is a risk of complacency in that operational practices and safety analyses may be blindly pursued without validating original design assumptions. Front-line staff may not be familiar with the historic rationale behind an SOP requirement