I have been asked a lot lately, “What’s next in aviation safety?” Considering that civil air transport accidents are at their lowest level since 1945, even with the recent accidents in the U.S., one could say we have done our job, and move on. However, if we are to continue to enjoy this amazing record, we must look to collaboration in gathering safety data, analyzing those data and sharing the information we gain from the analysis. The sharing of best practices, safety data, data analysis tools and techniques, data management and data protection are critical and require regional and global partnerships to realize an effective, integrated safety management system.
Almost every airline in the world belongs to an industry organization that represents its interests and viewpoints. Characteristic of these organizations are a structure and process that regularly bring together safety professionals from member airlines. These safety professionals have accepted the responsibility of facilitating information sharing among their constituent airlines to collectively advance aviation safety.
The International Civil Aviation Organization recently implemented the Integrated Safety Trend Analysis and Reporting System (iStars), which enables the monitoring of progress toward global safety objectives. The International Air Transport Association has developed a flight data–gathering tool called the Flight Data eXchange or FDX. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation community have an information-sharing partnership known as the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program, which proactively analyzes extensive data sets (ASW, 4/13, p. 40). The goal is to improve the assessment of safety risks associated with changes in the aviation operating environment and to develop and implement safety analytical capabilities and reporting systems. ASIAS stakeholders represent all relevant participants in the aviation system, providing a comprehensive set of safety-related data and operational expertise.
The shared information provides the baseline to enable proactive safety analysis. Both publicly available data sources — such as air traffic management data, airports and weather information — and proprietary data sources — including aircraft digital flight data and safety reports submitted by flight and cabin crews, air traffic controllers and maintenance personnel — are a necessary part of this process. Just imagine the integration of millions of flight data records, narrative safety reports, and operationally relevant data sources aiding in identifying the variety and number of factors associated with safety risks.
The future of aviation safety is here now, and the Foundation will be an integral part of promoting collaborations worldwide, and leading its own effort to foster safety analysis capabilities.