Organising for flight safety


Many factors contribute to an airline's safety record, some external to the organisation and others internal.� An important internal contribution comes from the manner in which the company's flight operations are managed.� This study addresses the organisational factors impinging on an airline's safety outcome that are subject to influence by managers in their flight operations divisions.� Particular attention is given to evidence of the concept known as 'institutional resilience'.

Twelve major airlines in Australasia and South East Asia participated in the study.� The study used a mixed method approach, incorporating both qualitative data (interviews) and quantitative data (audit).� The qualitative approach used in-depth interviews, conducted with 36 senior managers in the twelve airlines.� The quantitative approach comprised a self-reported audit of organisational management arrangements within each airline.� The audit was conducted by means of a questionnaire sent to one senior manager in each airline.� Eleven questionnaires were returned.

This report deals with the analysis of results from the audit.�

The scope of the audit was determined by both the framework adopted for the study and by information gained during the preceding 36 interviews.� The framework of analysis has six-parts: human factors, culture, safety management systems, benchmarking, and theory of high reliability and institutional resilience.

The results show both significant similarities and important differences between the airlines.� Attention is given to differences between domestic and overseas airlines.� The similar outcomes are useful as a normative guideline on the way airlines should address their management of safety.� The differences provide a guide to further development by both airlines and researchers.� The findings are discussed in detail at Section 5 of this Report.

The study identifies three areas suitable for further research.� The first relates to further development of reactive and proactive measures that can indicate the state of an airlines' 'safety health'.� When used in an appropriate combination, such measures should indicate changes in intrinsic safety levels and facilitate the prioritisation of remedial action.� The next area builds on the first by investigating the development of a checklist, similar to the Checklist for Assessing Institutional Resilience (CAIR).� A suitable checklist must appeal to the airlines in terms of its practical application.� The third area is development of a process to improve the reporting rate of flight crew error.

Type: Research and Analysis Report
Author(s): Dannatt R, Marshall V & Wood M
Publication date: 28 March 2006
Related: General Aviation
Last update 07 April 2014
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