The vital importance of data in driving global airport safety

Sabrina Guerrieri by Sabrina Guerrieri | Apr 27, 2020

Airport safety data: The starting point

Safety is the cornerstone of aviation; it operates diligently in the background of busy passenger traffic and keeps the entire air transport ecosystem running.

Like all aspects of aviation, safety is constantly evolving as it adapts to a changing world. The current global health crisis has been an extreme reminder of this reality.

ACI’s Standing Committees, made up of airport experts from around the world, have the important task of making sure that airports can adapt to challenges, many times preemptively, and to seize opportunities to make improvements.

This process begins with data – that is, the collection and analysis of data – which is then transformed into ideas and directions that are information-based.

ACI prides itself on this process. The collection and analysis of data has been the driving force behind ACI’s advocacy work, supporting its successes in gaining needed policy reforms over the years, and in producing programmes and services that promote airport excellence.

The value of the Safety Data Collection Report

In this regard, ACI’s most recent contribution is the launch of the 2017 Safety Data Collection Report, intended to help airport operators improve safety levels.

The report gathers data from 148 airports from all regions who have participated in the 2017 Safety Data Collection Programmeand presents analyses in aggregated global form. Together, these airports handled almost 18 million aircraft movements and more than two billion passengers in 2017.

This valuable resource covers runway safety, taxiway safety, apron safety, wildlife safety, and safety culture and training.  It helps airports to benchmark themselves against average performance in the industry, and allows them to prioritize their safety actions, set safety performance targets, and benchmark themselves against their own past performance over time.

Although no specific level is recommended by ACI, the statistics provided in this report may be taken as reference levels for the purpose of strategic planning to enhance safety 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 lighting, signage and markings, awareness campaigns, etc. Once these mitigation actions are implemented, monitoring them over time will produce information on how effective they are.

2017 Airport Safety Data Report
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Contributing to the 2018 and 2019 Safety Data Collection Programme

ACI has also opened the 2018 and 2019 safety data collections requesting airports to submit their safety data by 25 May 2020. The data will eventually be transformed into the 2018 and 2019 Safety Data Collection Report.

*Note: Data submitted will be kept confidential and no airport will ever be identified.

Given the global health crisis, ACI is cognizant that participation in the collection programme may be made more difficult, if not impossible.

Those airports that are able to participate however, will play a vital role in identifying relevant safety intelligence during times of crises, for instance, on aircraft parking and damage to pavements, which have been key concerns for airports during COVID-19.

A global agenda for airport safety

A principal research scientist at MIT shared a succinct thought: “The world is one big data problem.”

One of the most valuable aspects of a global approach to the gathering and analysis of safety data is that it allows ACI to identify hazards, risks and trends that are beyond the view of a single service provider.

Furthermore, the use of standardized indicators with well-defined taxonomy will contribute to the global harmonization of key safety indicators at airports worldwide and will allow the establishment of a baseline for airport safety performance.

ACI expects that the compilation of such data over time will facilitate data-driven decision-making and enable a global safety strategy for the airport industry.

Sabrina Guerrieri

Sabrina Guerrieri

Manager, Communications, ACI World
Sabrina Guerrieri is ACI World's Communications Manager with over 7 years of aviation experience working in corporate and B2B communications. Skilled in writing and editing, promoting and protecting brand reputation, project management, stakeholder engagement and alignment, integrated and data-driven campaigns.
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