Duty of Care and Contracting Aviation Support

This article addresses the issue of Duty of Care, by an employer to their employee, with particular reference to aviation; for the avoidance of confusion, this does not refer to travel with recognised international carriers approved by their applicable National Aviation Authority and operating under the auspices of IATA. This article is aimed at the contracting of local aviation assets in support of a business’ activities.

So what is what is duty of care?

  • The employer’s responsibility to their employees for their health, safety and security during the execution of their normal business activity. This obligation has been extended to employee’s dependents when on an international assignment.
  • This duty of care extends through the employer to their suppliers of goods and services contracted to support their normal business activities.

A large number of countries are introducing legislation and case law precedence, expanding the employer’s Duty of Care responsibilities, these changes are increasingly in favour of the employee.

So why are Mackenzie Morgan getting involved in this difficult area of employment? What can we contribute to the debate? In response, I will ask you the companies working world-wide; can you assure that the supplier of aviation assets is a fit and proper organisation? Are their aircraft/helicopters maintained in an airworthy condition?

We have used as the statistical basis of this article IATA’s Safety Report 2019, issued in April 2020. From the Report a reportable accident, based on ICAO guidelines can be simplified to damage to an aircraft or injuries to the aircraft’s occupants. In the period reviewed under IATA’s Safety Report 2019, the overall accident rate went down year-on-year worldwide, to aircraft operating in a public transport role and with a weight greater than 5700kg. In that figure almost 63% of all reportable accidents, where there were either fatalities or injuries on board occurred during either take-off or landing, when the aircraft and operating crew are under the greatest stress. In the review period, 2019, there have been almost 240 fatalities.

As headline figures these are frightening enough, looking at the various regional variations of the accident rate, is possibly of more use and interest; we may highlight a region where you are actively operating in. What these figures do not show is the economic cost of accidents or the cost of non-reportable accidents/incidents where production is lost or delayed because of the late delivery of manpower or material.

In the period of the study the rate of fatal accidents in Africa, the Middle East Central and South America is grater than twice the European rate and even higher than the rate in North America. Of the causal groups identified in fatal accident investigations, flight crew have been implicated in 67% of all accidents. Other significant causal groups are engines, aircraft performance and control, fire and aircraft system failures. There are a further group of circumstantial or contributory factors, the most significant aspect in these circumstantial factors is the failure of company or regulatory infrastructure identify or correct system deficiencies.

This is now August 2020, a post COVID-19 environment? We are seeing huge growth in the use of business jets across world, as individuals and companies attempt to minimise one risk, exposure to COVID-19. Airports and the airport experience are a significant risk area for the exposure to COVID-19.

So as employer, contracting locally for aviation support to your operation; the local transfer of manpower, re-supply missions and casevac from remote locations, what can you do? In turbulent times, unscrupulous people will always attempt to “bend the rules”, there has been a growth in a “grey” charter market. This is where the aviation provider is not approved to operate as commercial air transport, they do not have the same level of documentation or oversight that a commercial air transport provider has – hence the cost differential.

The use of local aviation support should be addressed by your Risk Management system, and mitigated against, for one-off or limited duration/capability a desk-top audit of approvals, and recent history, against an appropriately constructed form would suffice. Where the relationship is for an extended period or is for a highly intensive period, the establishment of a remote location, a formalised audit, audit programme, against a recognisable standard will be required. Issuing applicable non-compliances, corrective actions and the completion of follow-up audits will be necessary to ensure that all risks are reduced to be as low as reasonably possible.

Mackenzie Morgan has a range of solutions that can be employed by organisations required to utilise locally contracted aviation support, we can:

  • Develop a training package and desk-top audit programme for those organisations with limited aviation support requirements;
  • Develop a far more rigorous programme to provide procurement and line management with an appreciation of aviation and a tool-kit to enable them to better assess the capability of the service provider;
  • Finally, we can provide that oversight for organisations with a significant reliance on local aviation support.

I think I have now answered the question I posed at the beginning of this article. Please feel free to contact us and discuss your needs with respect to gaining knowledge of aviation matters.

As always I really appreciate your feed-back on the articles posted.