Viewpoint

Sharing data will help boost safety

According to the IATA’s latest analysis of safety across the commercial aviation sector, which was published in April, about half of all accidents during 2009–2013 were in the runway environment.

While many of these incidents involved runway excursions there remains a substantial number that will have occurred while the aircraft was on the ground. 

EASA safety figures (pdf) for 2013, which were published last week (June 6), reveal that the number of ground collision accidents occurring at EU-regulated aerodromes has risen consistently since 2009 and in 2013 eight such accidents occurred.

It also reveals that while the number of accidents related to ramp operations fell in 2013 to just one, compared with the previous four-year average of 5.2, the number of serious incidents relating to ramp operations remained the same. 

According the UK’s health and safety regulator, the HSE, a “significant proportion” of the serious accidents that are reported to it from the air transport sector occur during aircraft turnround.

With turnround times becoming shorter and with many activities, including maintenance, being undertaken often by different companies this is clearly an area where airlines and MRO firms alike must remain vigilant to ensure the safety of their staff and passengers. 

AAR’s decision this week to become the first MRO company to share data on safety incidents with the FAA’s aviation safety information analysis and sharing program (ASIAS) will hopefully be repeated across the sector.

Studies into health and safety practices reveal the important positive impact collecting and analysing data on accidents and near-misses can have on safety rates, and in expanding ASIAS to include MRO activities the FAA aims to both help operators avoid serious and costly safety issues and identify high-risk areas.

Sharing examples of safety risks and best practice in MRO activities with the rest of the aerospace sector can only help to improve awareness and, hopefully, drive accident rates down. 

Firms should also ensure they’re keeping up-to-date with EASA’s proposals to change its founding regulation (Regulation EC/216/2008, known as EASA’s “Basic Regulation”), which include extending its “performance-based” approach to safety.

The regulator’s proposed changes are out to consultation until 14 August.

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