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Safety within Critical Discourse Perspectives

Kamran Akhavan Attari

This is interdisciplinary of safety documents studies and critical discourse analysis[1].Although I believe this approach can be applied in any sort of safety material, but as a sample it modified ICAO USOAP/CMA that can be more influential compare with other safety programme, because it covers 191 countries signed Chicago Convention in 1944.

If we consider that safety components such as reporting, documentation and monitoring are discursive practices (social practices) We can use Critical Discourse Analysis to develop safety studies for matching what safety documents says with what exactly is happening in operational environment and increase reliability of safety documents.

Consider a CAO[2] could not fulfil its responsibilities including; regulatory and oversight and unable to help aviation service providers due to:

  • Lack of sufficient staff and financial resources;
  • Inappropriate organizational structure; and
  • Powerful informal organizations,

Also because there was not any human resource program in CAO, the most CAO's key personnel come from service providers. So there was a very tight relationship between them. (It against the first audit checklist question; if regulatory framework is separate body from service providers?)

Let's review paragraphs of the USOAP reports from regarding the CAO:

"The CAO has established an adequate system for personnel licensing, including a clearly defined line of responsibility and adequately defined terms of reference for the licensing staff. However, the CAO has not established requirements for the validation of commercial pilot and airline transport pilot licences issued by other Contracting States. (USOAP report 2000)"

"The CAO has not complied with the one recommendation made by ICAO during the audit relating to personnel licensing. (USOAP report 2004)"

One HAZARDOUS situation: USOAP audit reports continue to be more diplomatic rather than more effective and postpone corrective actions to CMA.

Since USOAP report published in 2010 and a good grade have been dedicated to the CAA, the only little tiny improvements stopped because of Arrogance.


  • Note that; a weak CAO could be a big contributing factor in an incident or accident. So using diplomatic wording in USOAP CMA reports will not change a corrupted organization. We come across institutional accident.
  • Consider this unlisted situation in some States before publishing Amendment 1 of Annex 19 and the 4th edition of the SMM.
  • Silence in this area have several reasons. One of them is "lack of words". So let's give words to non-native English speakers' countries.
  • ICAO CMA should have flagged a protocol question and its Oversight Unit should have redressed this.
  • The regulator, and ICAO have a responsibility to the traveling public. But when they fail to reach their own standard it is up to us as safety professionals to set the bar higher. If aviation organizations only aspired to meet minimum regulatory requirements we would be in a bad place everywhere. Stay focused and don't accept anything less than your own high standards.


[1] Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is “an approach to language analysis which concerns itself with issues of language, power and ideology”. An interdisciplinary approach to discourse, it rejects the study of language as independent from social studies. Rather, it focuses on language as a form of social practice and seeks to examine both the manner in which discourse is shaped by relations of power and ideology, and the manner in which discourse actively plays a role in shaping these relations.

[2] Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) of each country has responsibility of regulatory and monitoring of civil aviation

May 16, 2017 @ 11:00 AM EDT

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Edwin Muleya's picture
Edwin Muleya

Good analysis

June 02, 2017 @ 03:13 AM EDT