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Fact Sheet – Commercial Aviation Safety Team

For Immediate Release

February 26, 2019
Contact: Marcia Alexander-Adams
Phone: 202-267-3883/les.dorr@faa.gov


The nation's impressive commercial aviation 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 U.S. commercial air travel. 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—and has helped achieve the safest period in its history. CAST is committed to continuing its efforts to advance safety in the National Airspace System (NAS) and is sharing its knowledge and experience with other transportation modes and industries.

Looking Ahead
Established in 1997, CAST has evolved beyond the "historic" approach of examining past accident data to a proactive approach that focuses on detecting risk and implementing mitigation strategies before accidents or serious incidents occur. In 2010, CAST set a new goal: to reduce the U.S. commercial fatality risk by another 50 percent by 2025.

The transition to prognostic safety analysis requires greater emphasis on acquiring, sharing, and analyzing aviation safety data from across the aviation community. CAST works closely with the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program to leverage data from across the aviation community to identify emerging and changing risks, and proactively adopts voluntary safety enhancements to mitigate the risks.

Voluntary safety programs such as the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program, and Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP) in ASIAS provide air carriers and the Government insight into millions of operations so potential systemic safety issues and trends are identified.

The ASIAS program connects a wide variety of safety data and information sources across industry and works closely with Government-industry safety teams like CAST and the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) to monitor known risks, evaluate the effectiveness of deployed mitigations, and detect emerging risks. The ASIAS program continues to evolve, but has matured to the point that it now incorporates voluntarily provided safety data from operators that represent 99 percent of U.S. air carrier commercial operations.

Safety mitigation strategies identified by CAST are voluntarily implemented by its community. Over the years, CAST had adopted more than 100 safety enhancements, with the last 22 based on information derived from ASIAS data.

CAST Is Focused
CAST has developed an integrated, data-driven strategy to reduce the commercial aviation fatality risk in the United States. 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's efforts have reduced the fatality risk in U.S. commercial aviation by focusing resources on the following risk areas:

  • Takeoff misconfiguration,
  • Runway excursions,
  • Airplane state awareness,
  • Midair collisions,
  • Controlled flight into terrain,
  • Approach and landing accidents,
  • Loss of control,
  • Runway incursions,
  • Weather,
  • Turbulence,
  • Icing, and
  • Uncontained engine failures.

How CAST Works
CAST uses a disciplined, data driven, focused approach to:

  • Analyze safety data/information
  • Identify hazards and underlying contributing factors
  • Develop specific safety enhancements to address risk
  • Voluntarily implement cost effective safety enhancements
  • Track implementation and continuously monitor the effectiveness of the safety mitigations
  • Use knowledge gained to continually improve the aviation system

CAST charters joint Government-industry working groups for analysis of the systemic safety issues in commercial aviation. These groups leverage data from ASIAS to understand the underlying contributing factors and develop mitigation strategies.

Senior-level safety officials from CAST organizations meet regularly to oversee the activities of the following working groups:

Joint Implementation Measurement Data Analysis Team (JIMDAT)
JIMDAT manages the CAST Safety Portfolio. It monitors the implementation and effectiveness of deployed CAST safety enhancements, and recommends modifications and changes to CAST's safety portfolio. JIMDAT, in conjunction with ASIAS, also identifies gaps and emerging risks as well as additional areas of study.

Joint Safety Analysis Teams (JSAT)
JSATs perform in-depth analysis of particular safety issues. A JSAT examines the sequence of events leading up to each studied event, then identifies ways to mitigate potential precursors and contributing factors. The intervention strategies are then evaluated for their potential effectiveness.

Joint Safety Implementation Teams (JSIT)
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 based on those interventions with the highest effectiveness and feasibility.

Joint Safety Analysis and Implementation Teams (JSAIT)
JSAITs perform the work of both a JSAT and a JSIT, including in-depth analysis and evaluation as well as development of action plans and recommendations.

Global Strategy
Although CAST focuses on operations in the United States, CAST encourages Government and industry partnerships around the world and works with regional safety teams to improve safety throughout the regions of 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 Agency (EASA), and other organizations. CAST has established links to other safety initiatives, including:

  • ICAO Regional Aviation Safety Groups: Africa and Indian Ocean (RASG-AFI), Pan America (RASG-PA), Asia Pacific (RASG-APAC), Europe and North Atlantic (RASG-EUR) and Middle East (RASG-MID);
  • Regional Aviation Safety Teams: Asia Pacific (APRAST), Middle East (MID-RAST), and Pan America (PA-RAST); and
  • EASA Data4Safety (D4S) Initiative.

CAST representatives share CAST SEs that offer mitigation strategies for top fatality risk areas within the region. Representatives work with regional working groups to adapt CAST solutions for implementation within the region. The CAST Government industry partnership model and its analytical methodologies are being adopted by safety teams around the world.

CAST Membership
CAST is co-chaired by Ali Bahrami, Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, FAA, and Michael Quiello, Vice President-Corporate Safety, United Airlines.

Government CAST Members

  • FAA
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Transport Canada Civil Aviation
  • U.S. Department of Defense

Employee Group CAST Members

  • Air Line Pilots Association
  • Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations
  • National Air Traffic Controllers Association

Industry CAST Members

  • Aerospace Industries Association
  • Airbus
  • 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

Awards
CAST received the prestigious 2008 Robert J. Collier Trophy and a 2006 Laurel Award from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine in recognition of its contributions in reducing the fatality risk for U.S. commercial aviation by 83 percent from 1998 to 2008.

CAST in conjunction with ASIAS received the 2018 Aviation Week Laureate Award for Commercial Safety in recognition of its contributions in advancing commercial aviation safety.

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