Aviation Investigation Report A98H0003

1.17.2  Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation

The regulatory agency responsible for aviation oversight[85] in Switzerland is the FOCA, an office of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy, and Communication. Switzerland is a member state of the JAA. The CAAs of certain European countries have agreed to common, comprehensive and detailed aviation requirements (referred to as JARs). JAR-OPS, Part 1, prescribes requirements applicable to the operation of any civil aircraft for the purpose of commercial air transportation by any operator whose principal place of business is in a JAA member state. The requirements in JAR-OPS, Part 1, became applicable for Swissair on 1 April 1998. No information was found to indicate that Swissair was not in compliance with the JARs at the time of the occurrence.

After 1 April 1998, the FOCA adopted the JAA philosophy that because of "increasing complexity and scale of both aircraft and commercial operations, the traditional spot checks undertaken by authorities no longer provide an intelligible or complete picture of any but the smallest operations."[86] Under the provisions of the JARs, the airline has a share of the responsibility for monitoring the quality of a safe service to the public. Important to the effectiveness of the policy is the JAR-OPS requirement for the establishment, by the operator, of a Quality System. This involves a designated Quality Manager and a nominated Accountable Manager; Swissair established such an organization.

Prior to the occurrence, the FOCA informally monitored Swissair operations, but did not conduct formal operational audits. The inspector responsible for monitoring Swissair was a former Airbus A310 captain. At the time of the occurrence, there were four operations inspectors within the Flight Operations Section of the FOCA, and all four had some dealings with Swissair.

Swissair flight operations were monitored by the FOCA through semi-annual coordination meetings, and by reviewing the daily flight operations report, flight safety reports, and crew reports of unusual incidents. The results of the Swissair Flight Operations QA program and ADAS analysis were also forwarded to the FOCA.

The responsibility for check rides was delegated to designated check pilots at Swissair; these rides were performed in accordance with the Quality System. Therefore, FOCA inspectors did not perform check rides on Swissair pilots, although they did periodically ride in the cockpit on scheduled Swissair flights to monitor in-flight operations. On the basis of their monitoring, the FOCA indicated no concerns about Swissair's flight operations.


[85]    Oversight is used in the context of watchful or responsible care as illustrated by the regulatory supervision exercised by Transport Canada's Office of Air Navigation Services and Airspace Safety Oversight and the FAA's Air Transportation Oversight System. The term is not meant to convey an inadvertent error or omission.

[86]    JAR-OPS Regulation entitled Procedures for Assessing the Continued Competence of an AOC Holder.


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Date modified :
2012-07-27