This safety summit meeting brought together the nation's leading aviation safety experts to review the accomplishments of 1995 and set the aviation safety agenda for 1996. Here's a rundown on the meeting by one of the participants.
December 13, 1995
The "Aviation Safety Initiative Review" in New Orleans
(December 6-7, 1995) demonstrated the aviation community's uncompromising
long-term commitment to a safety standard of "zero accidents".
The two-day, industry-led meeting brought together the nation's
aviation safety experts from industry, labor and government to
build upon the initiatives identified earlier this year and to
set the safety agenda for 1996. An updated Aviation Safety Action
Plan will be released in February 1996.
In January, the aviation community formed an unprecedented partnership
to define a plan to improve aviation safety. The meeting produced
four new ways of doing business:
An ambitious new standard of aviation safety: zero accidents.
Shared responsibility: a new way of thinking that makes passenger
safety the responsibility of everyone who flies, builds, regulates,
services, inspects or repairs aircraft.
An active partnership among industry, labor and government
that increases commitment and accountability for achieving and
sustaining zero accidents.
The Aviation Safety Action Plan, Zero Accidents: A Shared
Responsibility, provided the framework for the aviation community
to begin building a continuing process to improve aviation safety.
Passenger Growth & Accidents
The United States operates the safest and most complex air traffic
system in the world, handling 82 million air traffic operations
annually (roughly two flights per second). On a typical day, 1.5
million passengers on 30,000 flights move safely to their destinations.
The number of passengers traveling on U.S. carriers is predicted
to grow by 56 percent over the next 10 years. Worldwide passenger
growth is expected to be even greater. Accident rates today are
consistently half what they were a decade ago. However, the rapid
growth in air travel has the potential to cause a 56 percent increase
in fatalities over the next 10 years unless we stay ahead of that
growth by continuing to improve the accident rate from its already
The Aviation Safety Action Plan
The Aviation Safety Action Plan, adopted at the Aviation Safety
Summit last January, identified 173 safety initiatives in six
air traffic control and weather issues
procedures and inspections
flight operating procedures
safety data collection and use
Of the 173 safety initiatives identified at the January safety
summit, 91 were targeted for completion by the end of the 1995
fiscal year. Of those, 70 (77%) have been completed and 21 (23%)
are ongoing or under review. In addition, 65 initiatives were
targeted for completion during 1996-1999, and 17 were ongoing
Key Accomplishments in 1995
Safety Audit: In January, the FAA committed to conduct
a safety inspection of all air carriers with 10 or more passenger
seats. The audit will be completed by the end of December.
Safety Evaluation Programs & Safety Positions: In February,
the airlines voluntarily agreed to establish internal safety evaluation
programs and safety office positions. At that time,46 airlines
(mostly ATA members) had safety evaluation programs in existence.
The number has more than doubled to 95 out of a total of 138 air
carriers. The number of safety office positions has increased
by 83 percent, from 60 in February to 108 today.
FAA Safety Officer: On February 15, FAA Administrator
Hinson named Christopher Hart to the new position of Assistant
Administrator for System Safety to serve as a key advisor to the
Administrator on emerging trends in aviation safety.
One Level of Safety: On March 24, the FAA published a
notice of proposed rulemaking outlining new regulations that mandate
"one level of safety" for all carriers using aircraft
with 10 or more seats. The final rule is expected in December.
Runway Incursions: On April 17, the FAA released a comprehensive
Runway Incursion Action Plan which addressed human performance,
communications, guidance, surveillance, and surface traffic management.
FAA Aviation Weather Division: On October 1, the FAA established
an Aviation Weather Division to enhance the agency's ability to
prevent accidents and reduce delays attributable to weather.
The new office consolidates the agency's weather activities into
one office in the Air Traffic Services line of business.
Unapproved Parts: On November 13, the FAA established
a National Program Office to focus exclusively on unapproved parts
and combine the expertise and processes previously covered by
two separate FAA offices.
Human Factors: On June 13, the FAA announced a comprehensive
initiative to conduct and apply human factors research to the
national Airspace System in a joint FAA/DoD/NASA commitment to
making the airspace system safer and less complicated for those
who use it.
Future Air Navigation System (FANS): On June 21, the FAA
and Qantas Airlines began operational trials of a new oceanic
satellite-based communication, navigation and surveillance system.
National Airspace Data Interchange Network (NADIN II):
On March 31, the FAA inaugurated operation of the National Airspace
Data Interchange Network, a high speed data communications system
that enhances the controller's ability to pass information to
Flight Operations Quality Assurance Programs: Three working
groups at the January meeting identified Flight Operations Quality
Assurance (FOQA) programs as a major partnership action to achieve
zero accidents. This agreement will give the FAA access to in-flight
recorded data collected by airlines to improve safety in the following
areas: flight crew performance; training; air traffic procedures;
airport maintenance and design; and aircraft operations and design.
Airline participation is voluntary. The FAA, labor and industry
are working with NASA Ames on research and development. A model
program has been initiated with some major airlines.
Some Other Key Safety Initiatives
Flight Operating Procedures: Identify strategies to direct
the systematic development of safe and efficient flight operational
procedures that will not only recognize limitations of present
support systems but also define requirements for future support
Crew Training: Enable rapid adoption of modern training
methods and technologies.
Advanced Qualification Program: AQP aims to improve training.
It is an alternative method of qualifying, certifying, training
and ensuring the competency of flight crew members, flight attendants,
aircraft dispatchers, instructors, and evaluators under Part 121
(major carriers) and Part 135 (commuters) of the FARs. Seven major
air carriers are participating in the AQP program. Seven regional
carriers are in the development phase and one program has been
implemented. Training centers and aircraft manufacturers are also
active participants in the program.
Air Traffic Control & Weather Issues: Identify goals
and strategies to ensure that air traffic control and weather
information systems and procedures are coherently aligned to ensure
increased safety as well as increased efficiencies and effectiveness
in flight operations.
Aircraft Maintenance Procedures & Inspections: Identify
more effective procedures and processes that can be implemented
to eliminate maintenance related discrepancies.
Maintenance Resource Management System: The FAA and industry
have established a system that identifies the cause and effect
of maintenance induced errors. A prototype program has been developed
with a major air carrier. Other major air carriers are interested
in establishing such programs.
Safety Data Collection & Use: Identify needed changes
which will ensure all aviation safety data are available for immediate
use in accident prevention.
Air Transportation Partnership for Safety Programs: These
voluntary data sharing programs focus on fixing safety problems.
The programs, intended for major air carriers, commuters and major
domestic repair stations, encourage employees of certificate holders
participating in the programs to disclose important safety information
without fear of legal enforcement.
Applications of New Technologies: Identify applications
and implementation strategies for these technologies.
For further information, Gordon E. Smith can be reached at:
The Aviation Safety Institute
6797 North High Street, #316
Worthington, Ohio 43085 USA
Materials & Measurement Systems, Inc.
Office of the President
P.O. Box 883
Dublin, Ohio 43017 USA