Introduction to Aviation Safety and its Concept
Safety stands for an attitude towards wise and intelligent application of one’s abilities and skills with a clear understanding of potential hazards and adopting necessary measures to eliminate them. When we combine safety with aviation field that becomes aviation safety because in aviation field too we have to identify the areas of the accidents producing hazards and to exercise precaution to minimize the accidents.
The Economics of Safety. Safety is essentially an economic issue. It is the economics of safety that generates action. It must be ensured that a rupee spent on safety has to prevent at least a rupee’s worth of accidents; else a safety program will be of no use.
Safety First. The slogan ‘Safety First’ has been around for a long time. It sounds good, but unfortunately, it never has been. All flying organisations were formed to achieve a goal or objective – may be to accomplish a mission or to ferry cargo – and certainly not to be safe. The objective of safety is that of supporting the primary mission or objective and helping get the job done. Of course safety should be the paramount objective, but it certainly deserves a place just below the main objective and it should constructively influence the operations.
Zero Accident Rate. Theoretically, a zero accident rate is possible. If each accident is individually preventable, then they are all collectively preventable. There are two factors that we ought to recognize and accept.
- First, the risk in any operation is never zero. It may be low, but always positive. Since the risk is never zero, neither is accident rate. It just gets very low.
- The second factor affecting a zero accident rate involves economics. Preventing accidents involves some expense and as the costs go up, the accident rate goes down. At some point, an additional rupee spent on prevention does not prevent a rupee worth of damage or injury.
Concept of Change. Prevention requires change. If what we are doing presently is causing more accidents / incidents than what we have predicted, we should do it differently or use different equipment. If we do not change something, we will continue to have those accidents and incidents. Making predictions and identifying things which must be changed is easy. Getting people to actually do things differently is difficult. Even good changes that benefit everyone and make life easier will be resisted.
Definition of Terms
- Hazard. Any condition, event or circumstance that could cause an accident.
- Safety. Safety is freedom from hazard; the absence of risk.
- Risk. Risk is the probability that an event will occur. Mathematically, it is the number of undesirable outcomes divided by the number of possible outcomes. We can sub-divide the risks into the following: -
- Informed Risk. This is the risk correctly identified and assessed and accepted.
- Un-informed Risk. This is the risk we do not know we are taking. We have either not identified it or we have incorrectly measured it.
- Pointless Risk. This is the risk taken without reason. There is no possible benefit associated to it. For example, a pilot flying under a bridge or doing a roll after take-off.
- Benefit-driven Risk. This is the risk we take because the benefits perceived are so great that it is worth the risk.
- Risk Management. Since, decisions on risks are managerial decisions; we call this process risk management. Operational Risk Management (ORM) is one such tool used by management. Decisions on whether or not to accept a risk should be strictly based on the magnitude of the risk and the benefits of accepting it. Even in emergency situations, the IAF has the right to specify which considerations will be given priority. First priority will be the pilot(s), passengers and aircraft. That is risk management.
Why Do People Take Risk?
Risk taking is normal human behavior By finding out what the reason is, we may be able to change the tendency. There is a tendency in aviation to reward results rather than the method. This leads to the situation where risk taking is tolerated, even encouraged as long it gets the job done. If an accident occurs, we are ready to hang the person who violated the orders, which was available in the book but everybody was ignoring. To be consistent, we should set our standards for operation and reward or punish anyone in conformance or otherwise of these standards.
Attitudes. Another way of examining this problem of risk is to examine the attitude of people who take risk. Following five hazardous attitudes have been identified, which can be recognized and corrected both by the individuals and supervisors:
- Anti Authority. Some people do not like anyone telling them what to do. The person who consistently displays this attitude is the one who resists rules and regulations as a matter of personal policy.
- Impulsivity. This describes people who react without thinking to almost anything. They never analyse a situation or consider alternatives.
- Invulnerability. To some degree we all feel invulnerable. If we did not we would never drive a car, or fly an airplane. We cannot do what we do if we are afraid of it. There is a fine line, though, between overconfidence and prudence.
- Machismo. Some pilots treat each flight as a new requirement to prove their skills. They are ones who will never make a go-around or a missed approach. They see it as a personal failure.
- Resignation. This describes the pilot who just quits when he comes up against a difficult situation. Unfortunately, flying a plane does not depend on luck, fate or the will of God.
Elements of a Safety Program
The organisation needs to have a safety program in place. The elements that go into making an effective aviation safety program are:
- Reporting Systems.
- Information Distribution System.
- Safety Committees.
- Safety Inspections.
- Safety Education and Training.
- Awards Programs.
- Preparation for an Accident and Investigation.
- Analytical Techniques.