FAA Flight Standards Director John Allen is continuing his effort to change the agency’s approach to enforcement, but the FAA’s general counsel office has yet to approve such a procedure.

Flight Standards officials have hoped to move away from a punitive system to one that enables inspectors to help operators correct minor issues before immediately jumping into an enforcement. Allen sees the change as a necessary step toward a safety management system approach that will help the agency best direct its resources toward the areas of highest risk.

The new approach would not apply in cases of reckless behavior or intentional disregard. Speaking to the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association Spring Meeting last week, he noted that the agency has a backlog of thousands of enforcement cases that are absorbing resources. He views the change as empowering inspectors to work with operators to improve safety, and tells Aviation Week that most inspectors are on board with the change.

The same is not true with the agency’s attorneys. Allen had hoped to begin a pilot project this year in the Southwest region on the new approach, but says that may get pushed back six to eight months as Flight Standards officials continue to address concerns of the general counsel’s office.