Report from the Aviation Safety Initiative Review: New Orleans – December 6-7, 1995

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.

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Introduction:

The "Aviation Safety Initiative Review" in New Orleans(December 6-7, 1995) demonstrated the aviation community’s uncompromisinglong-term commitment to a safety standard of "zero accidents".The two-day, industry-led meeting brought together the nation’saviation safety experts from industry, labor and government tobuild upon the initiatives identified earlier this year and toset the safety agenda for 1996. An updated Aviation Safety ActionPlan will be released in February 1996.

Background

In January, the aviation community formed an unprecedented partnershipto define a plan to improve aviation safety. The meeting producedfour new ways of doing business:

  • An ambitious new standard of aviation safety: zero accidents.

  • Shared responsibility: a new way of thinking that makes passengersafety the responsibility of everyone who flies, builds, regulates,services, inspects or repairs aircraft.

  • An active partnership among industry, labor and governmentthat increases commitment and accountability for achieving andsustaining zero accidents.

  • The Aviation Safety Action Plan, Zero Accidents: A SharedResponsibility, provided the framework for the aviation communityto begin building a continuing process to improve aviation safety.

Passenger Growth & Accidents

The United States operates the safest and most complex air trafficsystem in the world, handling 82 million air traffic operationsannually (roughly two flights per second). On a typical day, 1.5million passengers on 30,000 flights move safely to their destinations.

The number of passengers traveling on U.S. carriers is predictedto grow by 56 percent over the next 10 years. Worldwide passengergrowth is expected to be even greater. Accident rates today areconsistently half what they were a decade ago. However, the rapidgrowth in air travel has the potential to cause a 56 percent increasein fatalities over the next 10 years unless we stay ahead of thatgrowth by continuing to improve the accident rate from its alreadylow level.

The Aviation Safety Action Plan

The Aviation Safety Action Plan, adopted at the Aviation SafetySummit last January, identified 173 safety initiatives in sixcritical areas:

  • crew training

  • new technologies

  • air traffic control and weather issues

  • aircraft maintenance

  • procedures and inspections

  • flight operating procedures

  • safety data collection and use

Of the 173 safety initiatives identified at the January safetysummit, 91 were targeted for completion by the end of the 1995fiscal year. Of those, 70 (77%) have been completed and 21 (23%)are ongoing or under review. In addition, 65 initiatives weretargeted for completion during 1996-1999, and 17 were ongoinginitiatives.

Key Accomplishments in 1995

Safety Audit: In January, the FAA committed to conducta safety inspection of all air carriers with 10 or more passengerseats. 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 evaluationprograms 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 aircarriers. The number of safety office positions has increasedby 83 percent, from 60 in February to 108 today.

FAA Safety Officer: On February 15, FAA AdministratorHinson named Christopher Hart to the new position of AssistantAdministrator for System Safety to serve as a key advisor to theAdministrator on emerging trends in aviation safety.

One Level of Safety: On March 24, the FAA published anotice of proposed rulemaking outlining new regulations that mandate"one level of safety" for all carriers using aircraftwith 10 or more seats. The final rule is expected in December.

Runway Incursions: On April 17, the FAA released a comprehensiveRunway Incursion Action Plan which addressed human performance,communications, guidance, surveillance, and surface traffic management.

FAA Aviation Weather Division: On October 1, the FAA establishedan Aviation Weather Division to enhance the agency’s ability toprevent accidents and reduce delays attributable to weather. The new office consolidates the agency’s weather activities intoone office in the Air Traffic Services line of business.

Unapproved Parts: On November 13, the FAA establisheda National Program Office to focus exclusively on unapproved partsand combine the expertise and processes previously covered bytwo separate FAA offices.

Human Factors: On June 13, the FAA announced a comprehensiveinitiative to conduct and apply human factors research to thenational Airspace System in a joint FAA/DoD/NASA commitment tomaking the airspace system safer and less complicated for thosewho use it.

Future Air Navigation System (FANS): On June 21, the FAAand Qantas Airlines began operational trials of a new oceanicsatellite-based communication, navigation and surveillance system.

National Airspace Data Interchange Network (NADIN II): On March 31, the FAA inaugurated operation of the National AirspaceData Interchange Network, a high speed data communications systemthat enhances the controller’s ability to pass information topilots.

Flight Operations Quality Assurance Programs: Three workinggroups at the January meeting identified Flight Operations QualityAssurance (FOQA) programs as a major partnership action to achievezero accidents. This agreement will give the FAA access to in-flightrecorded data collected by airlines to improve safety in the followingareas: flight crew performance; training; air traffic procedures;airport maintenance and design; and aircraft operations and design.Airline participation is voluntary. The FAA, labor and industryare working with NASA Ames on research and development. A modelprogram has been initiated with some major airlines.

Some Other Key Safety Initiatives

Flight Operating Procedures: Identify strategies to directthe systematic development of safe and efficient flight operationalprocedures that will not only recognize limitations of presentsupport systems but also define requirements for future supportsystem improvements.

Crew Training: Enable rapid adoption of modern trainingmethods and technologies.

Advanced Qualification Program: AQP aims to improve training.It is an alternative method of qualifying, certifying, trainingand 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 majorair carriers are participating in the AQP program. Seven regionalcarriers are in the development phase and one program has beenimplemented. Training centers and aircraft manufacturers are alsoactive participants in the program.

Air Traffic Control & Weather Issues: Identify goalsand strategies to ensure that air traffic control and weatherinformation systems and procedures are coherently aligned to ensureincreased safety as well as increased efficiencies and effectivenessin flight operations.

Aircraft Maintenance Procedures & Inspections: Identifymore effective procedures and processes that can be implementedto eliminate maintenance related discrepancies.

Maintenance Resource Management System: The FAA and industryhave established a system that identifies the cause and effectof maintenance induced errors. A prototype program has been developedwith a major air carrier. Other major air carriers are interestedin establishing such programs.

Safety Data Collection & Use: Identify needed changeswhich will ensure all aviation safety data are available for immediateuse in accident prevention.

Air Transportation Partnership for Safety Programs: Thesevoluntary data sharing programs focus on fixing safety problems.The programs, intended for major air carriers, commuters and majordomestic repair stations, encourage employees of certificate holdersparticipating in the programs to disclose important safety informationwithout fear of legal enforcement.

Applications of New Technologies: Identify applicationsand 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
Phone: 614-885-4242
FAX: 614-885-5891
Email: 76703.402@compuserve.com
Materials & Measurement Systems, Inc.
Office of the President
P.O. Box 883
Dublin, Ohio 43017 USA
Phone/FAX: 614-890-1712
Email: GESmith@ee.net