Culture and safety
Jing Hung-sying's (景鴻鑫) com-mentary, ("Aviation safety is a question of culture," May 31, page 12), speaks at length about the role of culture conflict as being a primary factor for China Airline's pitiful aviation safety record. He suggests that the National Science Council "coordinate collaborative efforts on the part of academia and industry to improve the compatibility between Western aviation technology and Taiwan's culture and society."
As we observe, EVA airlines has a fine aviation safety record. Other than simply impaneling another committee from academia and industry, perhaps the enigmatic "powers that be" should swiftly act on the recommendation of previous committees and hasten China Airlines privatization.
If "culture" is primarily responsible for China Airlines' state of affairs, in the interim, the company might consider such heretical notions as developing case studies based on EVA airlines, requesting its assistance, or consider attracting EVA talent as a means to overhaul its performance -- actions any responsible author-ity would seriously consider.
Stephen E. Hoover
Jing Hung-sying is exactly right in attributing safety to culture. In another high-risk industry -- nuclear power -- a strong culture is directly correlated with improvements in, and maintenance of safe operations. In the US we use a Culture Index to determine the degree to which an organization has a strong safety culture. This index is highly correlated to positive
regulatory assessments, reductions in human error and overall safe operations.
Components of the Culture Index include quantification of five key elements: strong mission and goals, simple work practices, solid knowledge and skills, a well-developed self-improvement program and effective internal communications. Jing's editorial touched on virtually all of these critical components -- operation and management, training, and "professional independence."