Improving safety management at airports: Why developing safety intelligence matters

Prisca Nkolo by Prisca Nkolo | Jun 6, 2019

Safety intelligence is the interaction and analysis of safety data used to understand and mitigate risks by providing insights for decision-making.

Safety intelligence can be utilized by airports to transform insights into patterns, diagrams, reports, tables or trends, and therefore, develop ideas and directions that are information-based.

Safety intelligence pyramid

What can airports gain by developing safety intelligence

Safety intelligence sorts out the good data from the bad, relevant from irrelevant, and with that quality of information transforms the data and knowledge into usable information that will provide airports with a more valuable overview of their safety management performance.

For example, knowing that 90% of incidents at an airport are taxiway incursions may require a thorough assessment of contributing factors. This may result in actions on training, improvement of signalization, awareness campaigns, etc. Once these mitigation actions are implemented, monitoring them overtime will produce information on how effective they are.

It is commonly said that “What gets measured gets improved” (Peter Drucker). Using data, airports will be able to benchmark their safety performance and set their specific performance expectations. Over time, they will also be able to track their progression and view their previous performance.

Compiling safety statistics ensures effective monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of decisions taken in order to improve the strategy in the management of safety.

Growing the airport community

Reliable safety data is fundamental to assess risks, identify trends, make smart decisions, and evaluate safety performance at airports. Collecting and analyzing data helps to prioritize areas of concern and make better-informed decisions in regard to actions that need to be taken to improve overall airport safety.

Recently ACI World launched the first global safety data collection programme in an effort to centralize safety data with the goal of implementing international safety standards.   

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Benefits of Safety Data Collection
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Note: ACI World understands the importance of confidentiality and safety data submitted by individual airports as part of this exercise will never be disclosed. Data will be de-identified and disseminated in aggregated form only.

A standardized set of key safety indicators for airports have been defined to collect data on:

  • runway safety
  • taxiway safety
  • apron safety
  • wildlife management
  • safety culture and training

The use of standardized indicators with well-defined taxonomy will create a standard  for safety performance across all airports. This will help in determining performance gaps and identify areas of improvement at all the levels: globally, regionally, and individually.

Contribution is key

The effective management of safety is highly dependent on the availability of safety information. Access to data is fundamental for determining priority areas and the efforts that are needed to support the interests of the airport industry, and communicate data to international regulatory bodies and stakeholders.

At the individual level, airports should establish mandatory and voluntary reporting systems and develop a just culture to encourage active reporting from their employees.

At the global level, airports are asked to submit their data to ACI World in order to support the development of safety intelligence to improve safety.

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Prisca Nkolo

Prisca Nkolo

Assistant Manager, Safety and Technical, ACI World
Prisca Nkolo (PMP) is passionate about airport optimization and uses her experience as an Aerodrome and Ground Aids Auditor in advocating for airport interests. She develops material and guidelines to assist airports in developing their operational and safety performance.
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