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The Technology Trends Transforming the Future of Safety Management Systems

May 22nd 2023
Trends Transforming the future of safety management

Safety Cannot Stand Still - The Technology Trends Transforming the Future of Safety Management Systems.

Safety in aviation is an area ripe for technology transformation. In an ever-changing aviation industry landscape which is accelerating the need for Safety Management Systems transformation, safety cannot stand still.

On 17th May 2023, Vistair held a live webinar to delve into this exact topic.

We were privileged to be joined by aviation safety experts:

  • Jason Ragogna, MD Corporate Safety, Delta Air Lines
  • Andrew Dunbeck, General Manager Flight Safety, Delta Air Lines
  • Tim Steeds, Former Director of Safety & Security, BA

Focused on Aviation Safety Challenges and the Technology Trends Transforming the Future of Safety Management Systems this webinar specifically explored the airline industry’s latest safety challenges and safety technology trends, particularly against a strained industry backdrop of experienced workforce shortages and an elevated demand for air travel, which are accelerating the need for greater digitisation of safety practices and investment in advanced technology such as AI. During the webinar, hosted by Vistair’s Solutions Director Paul Saunders, we delved into topics including harnessing the power of AI, what are the best use cases for AI in safety and how can the airline maintain control? What an optimum safety culture really means and what are the key pillars of a proactive safety culture?

In this blog we summarise some of the pertinent trends discussed in this webinar, the full recording of which can be accessed at the link below.


Vistair Safety Trends Webinar

Beyond Operations - Reshaping Safety Management Systems for airline wide collaboration For better-connected, safer and more efficient flight operations, ensuring that Safety Risk Management is well understood, considered and adopted airline-wide and the safety risks are accounted for in every change made across other key airline departments such as Network Planning, Finance, Corporate Real Estate and Marketing for example.

With unrelenting travel demand and airline fleet orders increasing globally (In 2022 alone, aircraft orders by Airbus & Boeing grew by 53%), airlines need the technology to be empowered with both speed and scale like never before. In tandem greater alignment and collaboration across airline departments in terms of safety culture, processes, systems and communication is vital at this pivotal moment of change and growth for the aviation industry.


Simplicity and Relatability is Key

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”
(E.F. Schumacher) Right Honourable Lord Justice Charles Haddon-Cave,
Royal Courts of Justice, UK.

Simplicity in how safety is approached and managed is vital. While the importance of simplicity is clear – as the above quote outlines, achieving simplicity requires new thinking, new approaches and modern technology to streamline and ‘de-comlexify’ systems. One of the biggest opportunities for technology is to transform Safety by making it ‘Simple’ and ‘Relatable’ – to quote Jason Ragogna MD of Corporate Safety at Delta Air Lines in the recent Vistair webinar on Aviation Safety Challenges and Technology Trends Transforming the Future of Safety Management.

The landscape of powerful new technologies impacting aviation continues to grow and in parallel, a consumer led digital quantum leap is increasing the pressure of adoption. The aviation industry needs to keep pace with this change and harness technology change for growth and true transformation. In doing so, leveraging technology to simplify a complex ecosystem and to keep pace with a fast-evolving industry.


The Snapchatification of Safety - Digital First Systems for a Digital First Workforce

As the aviation industry continues to face challenges in terms attracting and retaining talent in a fiercely competitive market and in an era of fast and unrelenting technological change and adoption in wider society, technology is also extremely important to help to attract more talent to aviation and specifically to work in aviation safety.

The idea of ‘Snapchat for Safety’, a concept we at Vistair have been evangelising for some time, and also endorsed by Jason Ragogna of Delta Air Lines in our recent webinar, is really about communicating differently, quickly and digitally, to empower the new generation of aviation safety professionals. Providing them with digital first, highly advanced safety management systems for what is becoming and will overwhelmingly be, a digital first workforce. Moreover, the use of the latest technology in communication safety incidents and reports including video, ‘snapchat style’ fast communication, instant pictures, mobile, to empower the next generation of safety critical workers will play an important role in the transformation of safety. Ultimately, aviation safety industry needs to embrace new ways of communication using the digital first tools and practices that are second nature to today’s digital first individual.


Data Democratisation for Accessible, Actionable Data

A strained safety culture can be transformed with more relevant and meaningful data that is easily accessed, interpreted and acted on by non-data specialists within an airline. Moving from complex disparate data sources that are hard to access and analyse to readily available accessible, actionable data for real-time, digital decisioning. This is fundamental to the future of Safety Management in aviation. Not only does it support an improved safety culture and safety outcomes, it enables airlines to free up scare resources with easily accessible data for timely, data-informed decision making. At Vistair we have invested significantly in our Vistair Intelligence product to enable airlines to optimise and empower teams with self-serve data dashboards to answer critical data questions quickly which also improves productivity and reduces compliance risk.

Specific use cases include:

  • Identifying and tracking trends in safety reporting data, driving corrective actions for a more resilient airline organisation
  • Enabling at-a-glance assessment of the safety risk landscape, capturing data from OEMs
  • Increased visibility of operational status – identify issues and worrying trends proactively, not reactively
  • Ease of use means a reduction in required analysts, saving headcount
  • Better decision making, based on the data not intuition or assumptions.

Synthesis between AI and Human Inputs in Safety

There is no question over the potential of AI to transform operations and drive efficiencies at scale for an airline. However, there is a need to harness the potential AI with trust and control and with credible, authentic and relatable use cases that elevate safety but with the airline firmly in control. Seeking out ways to drive efficiencies and data informed decisioning in safety…scaling teams and saving time… leveraging AI alongside human expertise and experience.

In the area of Safety Management software, our airline partners at Vistair are telling us that they want technology to make things simpler for their users (as we highlight earlier in this blog) and to allow their teams to do more with less. Airlines are not looking to use AI to completely automate their safety and compliance management systems nor remove humans from the processes. The approach is ambitious but cautious with AI to gain confidence, experience and trust. The use cases where we are looking to leverage artificial intelligence are mainly associated with building structure around unstructured data, and through finding patterns in data. This results in making suggestions to end-users and not making decisions for them. So, it’s a case of the technology flagging cases where data looks like something that has been seen before, to allow the user to act on suggestions, rather than triggering an automation without consent.

Very recently in its updated roadmap, EASA has added a new chapter to identify and address some common AI challenges in aviation. Some of the challenges EASA describes pertain to things like quality assurance frameworks, knowledge and data management, and the predictability of AI behaviour.

The updated document also includes a new rulemaking concept for AI, in which EASA calls for a “mixed rulemaking approach” involving cross-domain rules plus domain-specific rules. This aims to ensure there remains a strong degree of airline control and a framework for establishing AI trustworthiness. (Source)

Collaborative Safety Leadership to drive a proactive, positive safety culture in an ever-evolving, dynamic aviation landscape

Aviation investigations continue to identify poor Safety Culture as a factor that increases the probability and severity of accidents. Furthermore, it has been recognized that a strong organizational Safety Culture requires buy-in and continual application of all employees, at every level, but especially commitment and leadership from top executives.

As outlined earlier in this blog, with unrelenting travel demand and airline fleet orders increasing globally and yet a workforce strained with labour and experience shortages, the environment in which airline are operating is increasingly complex and pressurised. This is further exacerbated by an ever changing and uncertain aviation landscape impacted by geo-political, environmental and regulatory pressures requiring Safety Leadership that is highly collaborative, highly inclusive across the airline organisation and stronger than ever before.

Technology is fundamental to the ability to collaborate and communicate more effectively, seamlessly, and quickly across the airline, breaking down silos, aligning processes and systems, therefore enabling safety leaders to bring departments and data together across the airline.

To view the Vistair Webinar on-demand , please click on the link below

Aviation Safety Challenges and the Technology Trends Transforming the Future of Safety Management Systems