US safety chiefs outline ambitious 2025 strategy

Ken Hylander, responsible for safety at Delta Air Lines, and Peggy Gilligan, the Federal Aviation Administration´s top safety official, spoke recently about a new goal to halve the current low accident risk by 2025.
That goal would mean approximately only one fatality for every 22 million flights – equating to one death roughly every two and a half years, a period in which more than 1.4 billion passengers will have boarded scheduled flights operated by US airlines.
The FAA´s Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), announced earlier this month that it planned to move beyond its ‘historic’ approach of examining past accident data to a far more proactive approach that will focus on risk prediction and mitigation strategies through developing prognostic safety analysis using significantly more data sources – including air traffic data.
CAST is co-chaired by Hylander who is senior vice president, corporate safety, security and compliance at Delta Air Lines and Gilligan, associate administrator for aviation safety at the FAA.
“Like all good goals, these are rather aggressive,” Hylander told reporters. “The question really becomes, how do we get to the next step?”
Safety experts are now turning their attention to these new approaches to anticipate and counter incipient hazards often in ground operations.
Runway incursions, or two aircraft mistakenly ending up on the same strip now account for the largest single safety problem, according to Mark Rosenker, another former FAA safety board member.
Steps are also underway to re-calculate risk. Instead of focussing on rates of fatal accidents, experts now want attention to shift to a far tougher standard: individual fatalities per millions of flights.
Voluntary programmes such as the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) program, and the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) currently feed into the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) programme which connects 46 safety databases across the industry.
The programme today has matured to the point where the FAA can now look at data from air carriers representing 92 per cent of US commercial operations and identify emerging vulnerabilities and trends.
As part of that effort, at least 37 US airlines are now actively encouraging pilots to voluntarily file reports about a whole gamut of safety lapses, with assurances of no punishment.
In future databases documenting the full range of incidents before they turn into accidents will be expanded, giving safety experts access to more than 100,000 reports, along with some 30,000 voluntary incident reports filed by air traffic controllers nationwide.