Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201600037
Date reported 31 March 2016
Concern title Unsecured passenger
Concern summary

The concern related to a passenger who did not secure their seatbelt at any stage during the flight.

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Air transport
Concern subject type Aviation: Cabin safety

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern related to an unsecured passenger on a [operator] flight from Melbourne to Adelaide.

The reporter advised that a very overweight person did not secure their seatbelt at any stage of the flight. When a cabin crewmember was advised, they reported that the seatbelt check was mainly to ensure that children were restrained and that it was the ‘passenger’s problem’.

Reporter comment: I'd rather not have a 100 kg person wedged under the seat alongside of me if I need to egress in an emergency.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

In accordance with CAO 20.11.14 there is an oral briefing before each take-off which is facilitated by the safety demonstration which addresses the use and adjustment of seatbelts. In accordance with CAO all crew are trained that prior to every departure and landing, part of their check is that all passengers have their seatbelt fastened low and tight around their waist. Our crew are trained in how to handle a situation should a passenger not be wearing a seatbelt or if they require an extension seatbelt. During cruise when the seatbelt sign is off our customers are not required to have their seatbelt fastened but we do recommend that they keep them fastened. Anytime the seatbelt sign is illuminated during flight the cabin crew will do a cabin check (provided this does not compromise the safety of cabin crew during turbulent conditions).

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further information as Safety is our highest priority and these allegations are not in line with our policies and procedures.

The ATSB did not think this answered the question safety concern and questioned the operator further. The following is a version of their response:

We thank the reporter for raising concerns about safety. Please find details of how this would be managed if this was identified by our business.

If this occurrence were reported through the our safety management system (SMS) by an employee or through the customer care system by a passenger lodging a complaint, this incident would be addressed as follows:

As a company, we would identify the flight, dates and the crew of where this event occurred through the above reports. This would then be allocated to the Cabin Crew Management Team to follow up so they could ascertain from the operating crew whether to substantiate the allegation raised.

The cabin crew manager would be able to question the crew in terms of the requirements of wearing a seatbelt and when this is necessary. If the crewmembers answer was not aligned with the requirements of our cabin crew policy and procedures, the crewmember would be retrained. There would be additional coaching and development arranged and the opportunity to fly additional sectors with a trainer to ensure the crewmember is adherent to the seatbelt requirements if that was the only identified deficiency in knowledge.

If this was brought to the attention of the cabin manager during the duty, the cabin manager would address the deficiency with the crewmember and go through with them their understanding of the requirement to correct shortcomings in knowledge. The cabin manager would rate the crew member a 2 out of 5 for knowledge in a safety criteria on the duty report which is must be filled in for every duty. Any rating of 2 will be referred to the cabin crew manager to address as per the above scenario.

Initial Ground School

All cabin crew members that start with [operator] go through an initial four week ground school where they are trained in seatbelt requirements, standard operating procedures (SOP) and emergency procedures. During this time, their knowledge is assessed through various exams. They need to pass all of these exams to graduate from initial ground school. Upon graduation, they will fly a minimum of six sectors with a trainer (who is a supernumery crew member), who will observe and assess their knowledge culminating in a “Check to Line” flight which they must pass in order to fly without a trainer. As the minimum amount of sectors they will do during this time period is six, they will be checking that customers are wearing their seatbelts for take-off and landing a minimum of 12 times as well as any additional times the seatbelt sign is illuminated due to issues such as turbulence. During all 12 of these occasions, the trainer will be following this crewmember and identify any knowledge deficiencies in following SOPs. They will check that the crewmember is checking seatbelts requirements. Any deficiencies will be identified, documented and brought to the crewmembers attention so that they can correct their deficiency. Ultimately, if this deficiency occurs on their “Check to Line” flight it will be deemed that their performance did not meet the requirements and they will be not be cleared to operate. If the performance does not meet requirements, they will be rostered for additional training and flying with a trainer until they are competent. If there is a continuance of unsatisfactory assessment the in-flight training coordinator in conjunction with the in-flight standards manager-cabin crew will be responsible for remediation training and an assessment plan.

Pre-flight Briefing

Every time a crew member starts a new duty there is a mandatory requirement for a crew briefing to take place. This crew briefing must address questions around Standard Operating Procedures. Knowledge of seatbelts and when they need to be used can and will be asked from time to time. Crew will be assessed in their knowledge of the requirements. If there is a highlighted deficiency in knowledge, the crew member would be stood down. If this were the case, additional coaching and training would be arranged to ensure the crew member is competent prior to them being allowed to operate back on-line

Recurrent Training

Once a year all crew do recurrent training which involves exams to assess their knowledge. Any crew failures will result in a re-sit. If there is a continuance of unsatisfactory assessment the in-flight training coordinator in conjunction with the in-flight standards manager- cabin crew, are responsible for the remediation training and assessment plan.

Annual Line Check

Once a year crew will also be assessed in an annual line check. A senior member of the cabin crew will assess them over the course of an entire sector and this check encompasses all their responsibilities. A core component of this check is the verification that all passengers have their seatbelt on for take-off, landing and any time the seatbelt sign is illuminated. If this does not meet the requirements as per previous examples the crew member will be removed from line operations until the completion of remedial training and satisfactory assessment.

The non-acquittal of the initial response to the ATSB posed the question that ’This is not really addressing the issues of cabin crew not actually following the procedures?’”

I trust the above response clarifies the robust process that would occur should a cabin crew member is found not to be following accepted procedures. If dates and flights are provided with regards to the REPCON report [operator] will follow up with the crew on this respective flight in order to address the concerns raised.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA has reviewed the REPCON and is satisfied that [operator] has robust procedures for compliance with the requirements of Civil Aviation Order 20.11.14 and appropriate crew training supporting compliance.

Last update 12 July 2018