Aviation safety; Since the tragic events of Sep. 11, many people use the terms “safety” and “security” a lot, especially as they relate to travel.
Sometimes using the two words synonymously. But there is a significant difference between the two words when it comes to air travel.
Aviation safety refers to the efforts that are taken to ensure airplanes are free from factors that may lead to injury or loss.
Jet airplanes always have been safe – they have to be, or the manufacturers wouldn’t be in business long.
Commercial airlines and major manufacturers like Boeing Commercial Airplanes [NYSE: BA] adhere to every safety regulation mandated by the regulatory agencies – and then some.
Aviation security is only one component that may affect passenger safety.
It is not so much related to the airplane itself, but rather to intelligence gathering, pre-boarding procedures and airport security personnel. It is mainly aviation security that has been receiving urgent attention since Sep. 11.
safety standardization, civil aviation safety authority enforce air safety regulations in many ways:
- Government pilots go for “check” rides to observe pilots while they are flying.
- Agencies review airline training programs, and audit maintenance records, production facilities and airport security methods.
- Agencies assign a principal maintenance inspector, a principal operations inspector and a principal security inspector to each airline.
- The Agencies assign engineering and quality inspectors to airplane design and manufacturing facilities.
One of aviation safety challenges is the Unmanned aircraft, or drones, represent a rapidly developing sector of aviation with a great potential to create new jobs and economic growth in the European Union.
This is why the EU adopted a regulation to safely integrate remotely piloted drones into the European airspace.
The regulation sets common rules for civil aviation safety and revises the mandate for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The new ‘EASA regulation’ replaces the legislative framework from 2008.
On 26 June 2018, the Council adopted the new proportionate and risk-based rules that will enable the EU aviation sector to grow and will make it more competitive.
Safety Management System
The Safety Management System (SMS) is becoming a standard throughout the aviation industry worldwide.
The Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) recognize it, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and civil aviation authorities (CAA) and product/service providers as the next step in the evolution of safety in aviation.
SMS is also becoming a standard for the management of safety beyond aviation. Similar management using systems in the management of other critical areas such as quality, occupational safety and health, security, environment, etc.
Safety Management Systems (SMSs) for product/service providers (certificate holders) and regulators will integrate modern safety risk management and safety assurance concepts into repeatable, proactive systems.
SMSs emphasize safety management as a fundamental business to consider process in the same manner as other aspects of business management.
How aviation safety has improved
New technology – new risks
The aviation industry’s impressive safety record in recent decades is in large part a reflection of technological developments introduced and then honed in the second half of the 20th century. Subsequent generations of jet aircraft have generally proved safer than the last.
The piston-driven aircraft that dominated the world’s airline fleet in 1960 had an accident rate of 27.2 accidents per million departures.
The second generation of aircraft in the latter half of the 1960s and early 1970s, which included the Boeing 727 and the DC-9 jet airliners, had an accident rate of 2.8 accidents per million.
The current generation of aircraft have an accident rate of 1.5 accidents per one million departures.
Aircraft design may eventually have to change more dramatically, especially if flying is to be kept affordable as fuel costs climb in the future.
This could bring about new forms of propulsion – such as electric, hybrid or solar powered planes – radical new airframe designs, as well as new techniques, like assisted take-offs or unpowered landings.
“In 20 years’ time we may see more fundamental changes in aviation technology, driven by the economic and environmental concerns of fossil fuels.,” says Josef Schweighart, Head of Aviation Germany, AGCS.
New materials and computer-aided aviation
In the meantime, the aviation industry continues to innovate, most recently with the introduction of composite materials and the increasing use of digital technology and electronics.
“The new generation of airliners are very innovative, but it will take time – at least several years – to see how resistant the materials will be,” says Thomas Cahlik, Head of Mediterranean, Aviation, AGCS.
Many of the new technologies have helped improve safety, such as better cockpit instrumentation displays and fly-by-wire systems.
However, technology has a potential for creating unanticipated consequences, according to Jon Downey, Head of Aviation – US, AGCS.
“Once, pilots relied on their ‘steam gauges’ and had very little live data at their fingertips. Now the information available can be overwhelming,” he says.
While ‘glass cockpit’ technology gives much better visual awareness it also raises issues, as was seen in the loss of the Air France Flight 447 in 2009 with 228 people on-board.
Accident investigators concluded that the pilots became confused by the plane’s instrumentation and took inappropriate action when the Airbus 330 flew into turbulence during a tropical thunderstorm over the Atlantic Ocean.
Concerns over pilot’s reliance on automation in the cockpit were also raised by the Asiana crash in 2013.
“What we see now is an increasing reliance on technology, that pilots may not fully understand, that at some point this can diminish a pilot’s situational awareness and stick and rudder skills,” says Downey.