Ian Seager


With Ian Seager


What chance Just Culture?

To achieve significant progress, important changes need to be made. But has the CAA got the stomach for that?

A couple of weeks ago I took part in a webinar on Just Culture. It was organised by Astral Aviation Consulting on behalf of the CAA, and the idea was to explain Just Culture, its benefits to General Aviation and how the CAA was going about its implementation. 

There was a segment delivered by the excellent Dr Sarah Flaherty and another delivered by the CAA’s GA Just Culture Champion, Chris Mason. My role was to ask a couple of questions of my own, and to act as intermediary between the live audience questions, and the panellists. The webinar was recorded, and you can watch it below.

Entire books have been written about Just Culture, but if you are unfamiliar, the Just Culture page, linked to from the CAA’s General Aviation website, (a useful resource), can be found here

It explains, “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.”

That’s hard to argue with, but maybe a bit theoretical, so during the webinar I asked Chris what a healthy Just Culture might look like from a GA pilot’s perspective. 

Chris suggested that having made a mistake, a GA pilot might like to self-report via an MOR so that the mistake could be investigated, enabling others to learn. I can see the logic in that, but not as clearly as I can see the large herd of elephants crammed into the room. 

The thing is, for a Just Culture to thrive you need transparency and trust. Although much of the transparency element (to the degree that it is practical) is available already, making the safety occurrence data public once again would be a significant contribution to a Just Culture, but the real problem writ large on the elephants is the lack of trust. 

Thanks largely to the way some policies have been decreed (Danger Areas and Rule 11 interpretations anyone?) and even more importantly the way in which infringements have been reported and handled, there’s little to no trust. I’d guess that we’re currently about a million miles away from GA pilots ‘self reporting’. 

I’m confident that the CAA is aware of this issue, and bemused at the spectacular job it’s doing of not putting it right. 

This might all sound a bit critical of Chris Mason. It absolutely isn’t. In our discussions, Chris impressed me with his openness and willingness to listen and engage, but unless a Just Culture is fully and enthusiastically embraced and supported by the CAA’s entire board and leadership team it’ll never materialise. 

Furthermore, the way in which some CAA/GA interactions take place will continue to undermine any kind of mutually beneficial relationship.

Significant progress is going to require significant change. I’m not sure the CAA has the appetite.




Leave a Reply

  • 2
  • 3
Enjoy 3 Free articles OR Join today to enjoy unlimited access to all content
Join today

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all of these cookies.