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Air Transport Safety and Quality

Introduction

Safety managers face various challenges when adhering to the ICAO aviation safety management systems requirements. Most airports and airlines all over the world, including the UAE discern that they have to incorporate these prerequisites. Critical challenges that safety managers face in aviation are lack of genuine participation by their whole organizations, vivid guidance to employ aviation safety management systems, and sufficient budget tools for managing safety programs. Based on this understanding, air transport safety and quality are incredibly vital issues to discuss with an accountable executive, such as the safety manager.

It is important to note that there is an increasing intricacy of the global air transportation system, as well as its interrelated aviation activities needed to ensure the safe operation of aircrafts. In this regard, ICAO espouses the continued development of strategies that are proactive in fostering safety performance. The framework for such proactive safety strategies is the incorporation of a State safety program (SSP) that addresses safety risks systematically. This report evinces the regulations, performance indicators, and risk mitigation strategies crucial to improving the airline’s quality and safety.

Safety and Security Policies

Preventive Safety and Security Framework

Access Control-air Transport Safety and Quality

Airport operators need to control access to the airport’s airside serving civil aviation, as well as employ security controls to prevent unauthorized entry of personnel and the passage of explosives, weapons, and other hazardous articles, devices or substances that people may utilize to commit unlawful acts. The operators also need to formulate identification systems with vehicles and people in mind to avert unauthorized access to security restricted areas and airside. The prevention of unauthorized access entails verification of designated checkpoints before granting people and luggage access to the mentioned areas.

A crucial security measure is conducting background checks on people before allowing them to access the restricted areas and the airside devoid of escort contingent on the airline’s security prerequisites. Nonetheless, the airport operators must monitor the movement of the passengers and vehicle to and from the aircrafts to avert any unauthorized access. The monitoring process involves screening the passengers and items carried before they are granted permission to access security restricted areas.

Aircraft Safety and Security Measures

Aircraft operators need to undertake security checks of aircrafts involved in commercial air transport based on national prerequisites and risk assessments. They also need to ensure that any property or object left behind by the traveling passengers disembarking from transit flights are eradicated or dealt with properly prior to the departure of the aircraft. The security personnel will also ensure that the airline’s aircraft enjoys protection from unauthorized interference from the commencement of the security check to its termination. Another vital security measure is the prevention of unauthorized people from accessing the flight crew compartment in the entire course of the flight. Based on this understanding, the airline needs to establish its security and safety controls to prevent the occurrence of acts of unlawful interference irrespective of where its aircrafts packed outside or within the restricted areas.

Passages and Cabin Baggage Security Measures-air Transport Safety and Quality

The aircraft operators need to formulate measures to guarantee the screening of passengers, as well as their cabin baggage before boarding the aircraft departing from both security-restricted areas and other areas. They also need to screen transfer passengers and their luggage from commercial air transport operations before boarding another airplane except in scenarios whereby the Competent Authority dictates otherwise.

Hold Baggage Safety Measures

The airport operators need to formulate measures that ensure that all originating hold items are screened before they can be placed onto an aircraft after they leave a security-restricted area. They will also ensure that such baggage to be transported by an aircraft enjoys protection from unauthorized interference from its initial point of screening to the point of acceptance into the jurisdiction of the operator. Airlines also need to refrain from transporting the baggage of passengers who are not traveling using the plane except for cases whereby it is identified as subject to extra screening or unaccompanied or the Competent Authority deems otherwise. It is vital to note that aircraft operators will only carry hold baggage within the company of their owners or those identified as unaccompanied but screened according to the proper standards. It also the duty of the operators to deal with baggage that is unidentified.

Cyber Threats Measures-air Transport Safety and Quality

The aircraft shall establish security and safety measures to protect the information and communication technology utilizes in its aircrafts and for civil aviation purposes from unnecessary interference that may result in placing the aircrafts at risk.

Safety Performance Indicators

The aviation system can be contemplated as comprising of discordant organizations that cooperate and coordinate to attain an overall goal that individual airlines cannot achieve on their own. A crucial element of the aviation system is safety performance indicators. The selection of safety performance indicators entails ensuring that they match the stipulated criteria and theory. Moreover, there needs to be a rationale for the determination of the safety performance indicators that dictated their application on the operational issues. These operational issues include mid-air collision (MAC), loss of control in flight, fire, smoke and fumes, runway excursion (RE), controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), and runway incursions (RI).

For specific safety performance indicators, multiple operational issues apply. The application of a single operational issue requires further detailing of an indicator, for instance, the inclusion of the specific flight phase for each indicator utilized. Therefore, if a safety performance indicator can be related to both loss of control in flight and runway excursions, the indicator can be separated into those that apply to landing and take-offs and those that apply en-route. It is vital to note that a system of organizations in the aviation industry can only function properly if there are clear connections between the individual entities. Hazards during operations may originate from an airline’s line of business or at the interfaces of its association with other organizations. Dangers that emanate from the interfaces between the airline and discordant organizations, such as various airports are particularly prominent due to the risk that no individual entity is ready to take responsibility for them.

The typical safety performance indicators that apply to the airline include system combine airprox rate, system combined bird strike rate, system combined runway incursion, and operator combines ominous weather prediction rate. The rationale for applying system combine airprox rate as an indicator is that airproxes comprise of the interface operation of traffic management and aircraft operators with the operational issue being mid-air collision. The rationale for implementing system combined bird strike rate as an indicator is that bird strikes requires the joint effort of aircraft operators, aerodromes, and air traffic management, with the operational issues applying to this indicator being controlled flight into terrain and runway excursion. The rationale for applying system combined runway incursion is that runway incursions entail the joint operations of aircraft operators, aerodromes, and air traffic management, and the operational issue applying to this indicator being runway incursions. The rationale for implementing operator combines ominous weather prediction rate is that varying weather predictions can impact an ANSP, aerodrome, and aircraft operator even though they are under the jurisdiction of meteorological services. The operation issues that apply to this indicator are loss of control in flight and runway excursions.

It is imperative to note that the safety measures indicators utilized in assessing the level of operations of the interfaces between organizations are mainly based on safety occurrences, for instance, serious incidents, accidents, and circumstances. Dealing with each operational issue on an individual basis is not the correct way of evaluating aviation safety and quality. The occurrence, incidents and accidents data need to be normalized through the exposure to the concern or risk of flying. This goal can be achieved by measuring the number of flights and their outcomes. This process ensures that the airline normalizes the lagging indicators. However, it is best to conduct proper normalization by treating each case differently while taking into contemplation the safety performance scheme, as well as the intended scope.

Communication Security and Safety Measures-air Transport Safety and Quality

The GCAA has the responsibility of formulating a communication system that promotes the dissemination of factual information regarding an incident or accident, as well as the progress of an investigation to the media and the passengers. This process minimizes rumors and speculations regarding an incident or accident while releasing fact that will ensure there is no misrepresentation or prejudice related to the investigation. In situations whereby the conditions allow, and contemplating the restrictions posed by biomedical and physical dangers, the body IIC may grant the media and individuals the permission to gain limited access to the aircraft and incident or accident areas. Nonetheless, they will not interfere with the continuing investigations or work and shall be monitored by the IIC or an officer acting on his behalf at all times.

On various occasions, the airline makes media and press releases, especially when it comes to matters that are of public interest and need public participation. In such circumstances, no individual other than a designated officer selected by the Director-General can perform the duty of releasing or authorize the release of any information about the airline and its operations or incidents to the media. In a situation whereby there is an accident, the accredited representatives and their recognized advisers, as well as the investigation authorities will not provide the media or members of the public with any document retrieved during the investigation devoid of the Director General’s express consent. However, it is imperative to note that other organizations affected or included in the incident, for instance airports, aircraft manufacturers, airlines, and emergency services may provide the media with some information, but on their related fields.

Risk Assessment

From geopolitical posturing to terrorist attacks, the aviation industry continues to find itself at the center of cyber risks and global security. Flying has always been considered to be the safest way of traveling due to the vast array of international regulatory frameworks. Nonetheless, the occurrence of various aviation incidents has led to a significant effect on public consciousness. Some of these devastating incidents include the shooting down of the MH17 aircraft over Ukraine and airport attacks in Istanbul and Brussels. Also, the advancement in technology has made it possible for hackers and other perpetrators to undertake cyber threats, which is a grave security risk given that air travelers are poised to increase twofold in the next twenty years. The airline plans to commence operations in another route. However, this venture faces specific risks that can impede smooth operation of the airline in the new course.

Automation-air Transport Safety and Quality

Technology continues to change and improve at an incredible rate. For instance, some companies manufacture driverless cars. This move has provoked thoughts and actions toward the creation of single-pilot aircrafts and those that do not need pilots to carry passengers and goods to discordant locations. Even before reaching that level, the cockpit of many airplanes and the air traffic controllers have become entirely automated. Such developments in technology are more than welcome, especially when everything is running smoothly. However, when the automation finds itself in a situation whereby it cannot cope, it will render control back to the human who will not be available at that time.

With the onset of automated systems, it would be easier for the airline to handle the demand for increased air travel to different places, such as the new route. However, such automation faces the risk of human pilots becoming less capable of reacting appropriately and quickly to emergencies since they have limited opportunities to hone and practice their skills. Such an outcome would result in the occurrence of accidents, mainly when the pilots on duty are not entirely familiar with the new route. Based on this understanding, airlines need to acknowledge the fact that the most susceptible points in numerous systems are those whereby humans work hand in hand with automated procedures.

New Business Model

The substantial increase in competition is a problem for quality and safety in the aviation industry. Novel technologies will have a more significant effect on operations and the prevailing certification standards and techniques. The commercial pressure is evident in the industry, as seen in the declaration of bankruptcy by some long-standing airlines. While novel business models, such as low-cost airlines translate into fewer individuals in the organization, does such a policy also result in increased safety?

The airline plans to begin low-cost flights to a new destination. To attain this objective, it will have to adopt a different business model aimed at improving flexibility, connectivity, and timeliness, among others. Notwithstanding, such a system with various moving parts is always challenging to execute flawlessly given that numerous things that could go wrong at the points of interactions between distinct components of the industry. The new route will add to the list of destinations and operations that the airline manages daily. The increase in management duties can make it difficult for the officials to identify prospective problems that could cause incidents, accidents or financial failure. In this regard, even though cost reduction is necessary for profitable operation of the airline in the new route, there is a line in the sand beyond which it should not proceed.

Cyberthreat-Air Transport Safety and Quality

The blend of cyber and the physical presents a risk to the airline in its operations in the different destination. For instance, numerous systems in the aviation industry and aircrafts are hackable. These systems include flight traffic management systems, departure control systems, cloud-based airline data storage, shipping and cargo handling, reservation systems, access control management systems, passport control systems, and dangerous materials transportation management. It is imperative to note that the cybersecurity presents an essential threat to efficient and safe air travel, mainly where pilotless planes and air traffic services are concerned. This assertion emanates from the fact that safety has, for the longest time, focused on accidental harm while cybersecurity deals with intentional harm. Thus, the new operations by the airline can fall victim to cyberthreats when hackers access and manipulate the systems.

Recommendations

Excessive compliance can be a bad thing when it comes to new ventures in aviation. There is still tendency of various airlines to direct safety efforts at compliance with the prevailing regulations. Nonetheless, as regulations tend to take a protracted duration to depict awareness of novel vulnerabilities, this can result in overlooking the evolving threats, thus, impeding preparedness. Based on this understanding, it is not always recommended for the airline to comply with the existing regulations as the problems keep involving with time.

The airline needs to embrace the same mindset as its attackers, instead of assuming a defensive role. The best way that the company can prepare for potential attacks is by anticipating them by reckoning like the attackers posing the cyberthreat rather than preventing yesterday’s challenges. An excellent example is working with white hackers in the cyber domain who can perform the task of identifying the areas whereby the airline may experience attacks from other hackers. After identifying these areas, the hackers working in conjunction with the airline re-frame or redesign the systems to ensure they are not vulnerable to attacks. As in the cyber domain, security is also a prominent issue in the physical space. Nonetheless, a significant portion of mitigation policies depends on experiences, with less deriving inspiration from scenarios. As such, the typical response to a particular attack is altering the security procedures in a manner that only changes or puts a veil on the vulnerabilities. Based on this understanding, the implementation of a different security checkpoint does not help if it results in more queues before the integral inspection that may be similar to the attacks in Brussels and Istanbul.

It is prominent to note that this is not a novel observation. The study conducted by RAND in 2003 revealed that decreasing baggage drop waits from the standard fifteen minutes to one minute could cause casualties in the event of a bomb attack. Nonetheless, most airlines and airports accord more attention to improving security checks, instead of decreasing the crowding that can occur before them.

Another suitable way of tackling quality and safety concerns, as well as associated risks, is cooperation. Individual airlines need to stop perceiving their resilience against attacks as an indication of comparative advantage as it formulates the potential for people with ill intentions to look for the weakest link. As such the airline needs to share its discoveries on vulnerabilities that were previously unknown, particularly in the cyber domain to gain valuable knowledge on how to improve its system.

Conclusion-air Transport Safety and Quality

 

Safety managers face discordant challenges when adhering to the ICAO aviation safety management systems requirements. These problems include lack of genuine participation by their whole organizations, vivid guidance to employ aviation safety management systems, and sufficient budget tools for managing safety programs. In this regard, air transport safety and quality are incredibly prominent issues to explore, especially as a safety manager. The airline faces various risks in its new venture to provide flights to a new route, such as cyber threats, automation, and new business model. These risks may hinder the successful operation of the company on the new course. However, specific recommendations can prevent such an outcome from taking place. These recommendations include changing tactics instead of always complying with the existing regulations, working in conjunction white hackers in the cyber domain to identify areas of possible airline attack by other hackers, and cooperating with other airlines and stakeholders by sharing information derived from investigative reports.