How does ATSB identify a safety problem in the aviation industry?


The primary objective of any investigation into an air safety occurrence is the prevention of an accident

Sometimes an investigation will uncover a safety deficiency in the aviation system and recommendations are made to address the deficiency. At other times the details and circumstance of an accident or incident don't immediately uncover a safety deficiency or even provide immediate answers. However, the occurrence data is collected and stored in the ATSB database and may at some time in the future form part of a wider analysis of safety issues.

A safety deficiency is defined in the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 subection 23(2) as one of the categories of transport safety matters that can be investigated. It is defined as:

Something that occurred that affected, is affecting, or might affect, transport safety.

To identify a deficiency the ATSB first collects information from an investigation or safety (research) study. Then it analyses the data and works with the industry to develop safety recommendations and actions.

Aviation safety deficiencies may be found in many factors and could include one or more of the following:

  • aircraft or component design
  • the manufacturing or quality control process
  • maintenance and/or engineering procedures
  • regulatory standard, information and advisory documents
  • operational procedures
  • Air Traffic Services procedures and documentation
  • corporate management procedures.

If recommendations are made as a result of a safety deficency, they are sent to the most appropriate organisation or agency to effect change. This may include the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia, maintenance and aircraft operators and manufacturers.

Type: Safety Education Material
Publication date: 1 January 2005
Last update 07 April 2014