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How the Aviation Industry Can Achieve the Acceptable Level of Safety (ALOS)

How the Aviation Industry Can Achieve the Acceptable Level of Safety (ALOS)

Today’s aviation industry receives ever-closer scrutiny and is subject to increasing regulatory conditions and safety guidelines. With rising annual passenger numbers already reaching billions globally, and simultaneously-increasing levels of cyber and physical threats, achieving the industry-recognised Acceptable Level of Safety (ALOS) is more important than ever before.

ALOS follows the concept of acceptable safety, or acceptable risk in some cases. (It is widely accepted across many risk-bearing industries that absolute safety is largely unattainable and unrealistically expensive). In the aviation industry, it is the responsibility of safety regulatory authorities (ICAO) to assess acceptable safety and risk and make provision within regulatory frameworks to create a minimum safety objective that can be realised.

The aviation industry is approaching this goal from a 360° perspective, aiming to create supported environments that involve airport personnel at every level, from the ground up and the top down, working together to take a shared responsibility in all areas of safety and security. The implementation and recording of a simple set of routine, day-to-day checks and a supported environment to ingeminate importance, reasoning and responsibility, must become an intrinsic part of airport operations and second-nature to personnel at every level. 

ICAO compliance and the Annex 19 Safety Definition

It is the Strategic Objective, the Annex 19 Safety Definition, introduced and set out by the ICAO, that is pushing regulatory compliance to encompass safety, which is a core value for the organization.

Annex 19 Safety Definition is among many safety standards implemented and introduced by the ICAO to ensure strengthened security and standards in global member airports. It is through standardization of safety and security regulations that airports can strive to simplify processes and meet ALOS objectives.

The role of personnel training and development in achieving ALOS

To fully realise ALOS in today’s high-pressure, passenger-driven and technologically-advancing aviation industry, the role of staff development and training cannot be ignored. With passenger numbers expected to double over the next two decades, and the implementation of next-generation systems and processes to strengthen operational productivity, some industry experts think that the key to streamlining lies in the encouragement of personnel development and a strong training program.

While next-gen technology, systems and processes are helping to future-proof operational environments, in terms of reinforced infrastructure to handle rising passenger demand and increasing safety mandates, introducing safety awareness through regular training, responsibility and support is becoming more important.

Many industry professionals believe that the introduction of routine, daily safety monitoring, following core security values can give airports and operators the best chance of achieving acceptable levels of safety. This is because well-trained and well-practised security and safety procedures begin to become second-nature, and this is when personnel grow in confidence as they understand their safety responsibilities. This also strengthens effectivity if the need arises to react to an emergency situation and simultaneously enhances a proactive approach to safety in the operational environment. When simple, clear procedures become ingrained, security monitoring and safety awareness become an intrinsic, everyday part of the job responsibility.

Other industry professionals think that standardization is the key to ensuring complacency does not seep into the airport environment. Not only standard safety monitoring measures, but straightforward recording processes too and a clear path for reporting. When third-party staff are involved within safety training and development programs, there is a reinforcement of team spirit too. 

Why shared responsibility is key to ALOS objectives 

Bringing personnel together to fully recognise the importance of consistent safety monitoring is the responsibility of airport personnel ‘at the top’, and the creation of monitoring teams, supported by a safety panel is a crucial part of their role in achieving ALOS and security.

The industry is largely in agreement about the benefits of ingraining safety aspects, measures and monitoring into the airport environment at a comprehensive level. However, ingraining a sense of shared responsibility to maintaining standards in safety is also critical. Personnel are much more likely to talk about potential issues if a sense of shared responsibility is achieved. 

The creation of a regular platform from which safety aspects of operations can be discussed is vital. It has been suggested that this should start at the top, within management infrastructure, forming a safety committee to work alongside safety teams from every level and department to provide liaison opportunities. These collaborations within an airport infrastructure can also deliver the perfect platform for regular meetings and safety updates and presentations.

When personnel become involved, whether within a safety event or a specific, seemingly mundane, routine safety inspection task, a sense of importance can be imparted, and the team member empowered. From an operational management perspective, this is the perfect situation. Once teams realize the importance of their individual role, then even a visual glancing inspection contributes to maintaining standards and reinforces confidence.

Combining training, standards, simplified safety monitoring and recording with a ‘top-down, ground-up’ safety awareness platform and the adoption of predictive and proactive practices will work to actively reduce the chances of a safety breach or emergency incident taking place.

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