FAA Flight Standards is working with the agency’s Office of the Chief Counsel (AGC) to help “redefine” the enforcement program, says Deputy Flight Standards Director John Duncan.

Speaking at the Air Charter Safety Foundation Symposium, Duncan said agency officials want to take the approach of “how do we fix this, and if we can fix this, then we don’t need to do anything else.”

Flight Standards Director John Allen last year said the agency has been trying to change the culture within the Flight Standards Service to encourage inspectors first to work out minor issues with operators when possible rather than immediately jumping into an enforcement action. The effort comes as the agency supports moving the “whole system” to a safety management system approach and encourages the use of aviation safety action programs, Duncan says.

He maintains that the policies are in place for the shift, but the need for cultural change remains. “We have a cultural challenge to deal with this transition,” he says. “They’re people problems. They’re not policy problems.”

He cautions that this approach would not apply in cases of reckless behavior or intentional noncompliance, nor would it apply in cases in which the certificate holder was uncooperative. Duncan also expects that deciding on where to draw the line will lead to some “robust discussions.”

But the cultural shift has already begun with the inspector workforce, he says. “Many of our people understand that’s the way we do business.” However, he acknowledges that the change “also is a cultural issue with the [AGC].”