Working Together For Aviation Safety
The nation’s impressive safety record is due in part to the aviation industry and government voluntarily investing in the right safety enhancements to reduce the fatality risk in commercial air travel in the United States. The work of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), along with new aircraft, regulations, and other activities, reduced the fatality risk for commercial aviation in the United States by 83 percent from 1998 to 2008.
CAST has evolved and the group is moving beyond the “historic” approach of examining past accident data to a more proactive approach that focuses on detecting risk and implementing mitigation strategies before accidents or serious incidents occur. The goal over the next decade is to transition to prognostic safety analysis. CAST aims to reduce the U.S. commercial fatality risk by 50 percent from 2010 to 2025.
The increasing number of flights requires greater emphasis on acquiring, sharing, and analyzing aviation safety data. Using incident data, CAST is examining emerging and changing risks to identify prevention strategies.
Because there are few commercial aviation accidents and no common causes, more data points are needed. Voluntary programs such as the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program, and Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) give air carriers and the government insight into millions of operations so that potential systemic safety issues and trends are identified.
The Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program connects a wide variety of safety data and information sources across industry and works closely with CAST to monitor known risk, evaluate the effectiveness of deployed mitigations, and detect emerging risk. ASIAS is evolving but has matured to the point that the FAA and industry can now leverage voluntarily provided safety data representing 96 percent of U.S. air carrier commercial operations. ASIAS works in partnership with CAST to analyze the data. Safety mitigations are developed by CAST and voluntarily implemented by its community. Over the years, CAST had adopted 76 safety enhancements with the last six enhancements based on non?accident data.
CAST Is Focused
CAST has developed an integrated, data-driven strategy to reduce the commercial aviation fatality risk in the United States. CAST currently uses 76 safety enhancements to improve safety. A reduction in the worldwide accident rate is also a long-term goal of CAST.
CAST identifies precursors and contributing factors to ensure resources address the most prevalent categories of risk that pose the greatest threat to loss of life. CAST has reduced the risk in commercial aviation by focusing on the following areas:
- Controlled flight into terrain,
- Approach and landing accidents,
- Loss of control,
- Runway incursions,
- Cargo-related accidents,
- Midair collisions, and
- Uncontained engine failures.
How CAST Works
CAST uses a disciplined, data-driven, focused approach of—
- Analysis of safety data/information,
- Identification of hazards and underlying contributing factors,
- Development of specific safety enhancements to address risk,
- Implementation of cost?effective safety enhancements,
- Tracking implementation and continuously monitoring the effectiveness of the safety enhancements, and
- Using knowledge gained to continually improve the aviation system.
CAST charters joint government and industry working groups for analysis of the systemic safety issues in commercial aviation. The groups leverage data from ASIAS to understand the underlying contributing factors and develop mitigation strategies. CAST voluntarily adopts the most effective strategies as safety enhancements and develops plans for implementing and monitoring their effectiveness.
Senior-level safety officials from CAST organizations meet regularly. This group sets overall policy, and oversees the activities of the following working groups:
Joint Safety Analysis Teams (JSAT) perform data analyses.
JSATs perform in-depth analysis of particular safety issues. A JSAT examines the sequence of events leading up to each studied event and then identifies ways to eliminate potential precursors and contributing factors. The intervention strategies are then evaluated for their potential effectiveness.
Joint Safety Implementation Teams (JSIT) develop safety enhancements.
JSITs determine the feasibility of the intervention strategies identified by the JSATs. Each JSIT then develops and recommends a detailed action plan for industry and government to implement the recommended safety enhancements.
Joint Implementation Measurement and Data Analysis Team (JIMDAT) develops a master safety plan, measures effectiveness, and identifies future areas of study.
JIMDAT monitors the implementation and effectiveness of the safety enhancements, and suggests modifications and changes to CAST’s safety portfolio.
Although most participants are from the United States, CAST promotes new government and industry safety initiatives throughout the world.
Aviation is an international business. Accident rates and causes vary by region and do not lend themselves to “cookie-cutter” solutions. With that in mind, CAST coordinates with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), International Air Transport Association (IATA), European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA), Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), and other organizations. CAST has established links to other safety initiatives, such as the European Commercial Aviation Safety Team (E–CAST), Regional Aviation Safety Group–Pan American (RASG–PA), ICAO Coordinated Development of Operational Safety and Continuing Airworthiness Program (COSCAP) initiatives, and other regional safety programs. Many organizations have adopted CAST safety enhancements that are appropriate for their regions.
CAST is co-chaired by Kenneth Hylander, Senior Vice President – Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance, Delta Air Lines, and Peggy Gilligan, Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, FAA.
Government CAST Members
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- U.S. Department of Defense
- Various government agencies also attend CAST as observers
Employee Group CAST Members
- Air Line Pilots Association
- Allied Pilots Association
- National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Industry CAST Members
- Aerospace Industries Association
- Airports Council International
- Airlines for America
- The Boeing Company
- Flight Safety Foundation
- General Electric (representing all engine manufacturers)
- National Air Carrier Association
- Regional Airline Association
- Various industry organizations also attend CAST as observers
CAST received the prestigious 2008 Robert J. Collier Trophy and a 2006 Laurel Award from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine.