Introduction to Aviation Safety FLT241-1

The slogan "Safety First" has been around a long time and you have probable heard within your organizations. But, how can we define aviation safety?


Aviation Safety is defined as the encompassing of theory, investigation, and categorization of flight failures, and the prevention of such failures through regulation, education, and training.

Aviation Safety Terms

Sectors of Aviation

General Aviation

Civilian flying that excludes schedules passenger airlines.

Corporate Aviation

Air transportation specifically for the needs of company employees and executives.

Military Aviation

Use of aircraft for conducting aerial warfare and support operations.

Commercial Aviation

Using aircraft to provide paid transportation or flight services to people and cargo.


What is USHRI?

USHRI stands for Ultra Safe High Risk Industry. Commercial aviation along with other industries such as nuclear power and chemical, commercial aviation accomplishes its mission while having less than one disastrous accident per 10 million events.

What is Risk?


Combination of the severity of a dangerous condition or event and the probability or likelihood of that event occurring. (Scenario # 1) .

Commercial Aviation Statistics

IATA reported that 3.3 billion people flew in 2014 and projected that this number would increase to 3.5 billion on more than 50,000 routes in 2015.
Everyday it means that over 8 million people are in the sky on more than 100,000 flights. There are more than just people moving through the sky, as pilots transported 50 million tons of cargo
Transporting people and good resulted in a $2.4 trillion international economic footprint that supported 58 million jobs globally.
In 2014 there was only one major accident for every 4.4 million flights.

But why do we care about risk, statistics and Commercial Aviation Safety?

  • First and foremost, human life is involved, often in significant numbers and also often involving not just passengers but bystanders on the ground.
  • Second, when safety deteriorates, it comes with financial implications. These can come in the forms of lawsuits, insurance claims, and stock instability.

Safety Philosophy

Accidents happen to stupid people.
If it isn't broken, don't fix it.
If it hasn't been a problem before, then it isn't a problem.
You have been sufficiently trained.
Safety is our top priority.
Accidents are impossible to predict.
Weather is a leading cause of accidents.
There is often a single cause behind an accident.
Accidents are "Acts of God".

Precursors to Accidents


Aviation professionals can let other things affect their concentration, such as checking personal text messages during a preflight check.


Someone may take a shortcut. When we do this, we are not giving our personal best and we risk missing key information and skipping items that may not seem important now but that could prove critical in a few months.

Operating Outside One's Training

Accidents can occur when we find ourselves doing something outside what we are trained to do. We often know that it is something we have not been trained to do and make a conscious decision to do it anyway.


It is easy to tune out warning signs when it is something that frequently occurs and which have not resulted in problems in the past. The problem is that the context may be different today, and therefore today may be the day that the warning applies.

Ignoring your Instinct

That expression may not sound very scientific, but it is essentially means that something does not feel right. Professionals should not feel uncomfortable when they are doing a task. If something does not feel right, it may be our protective instinct kicking in and recognizing that an unresolved discrepancy or problem is lurking in the background, ready to ruin your whole day.

Safety vs Security

Many traveler tend to use "safety" and "security" interchangeably when they speak.

  • Safety- entails the prevention of unintended negative outcomes and, therefore, safety specialists attempt to detect those conditions that could lead to personal harm or material damage.
  • Security- entails the prevention of intentional negative outcomes, often associated with terrorism and criminal acts. Security specialists focus on intelligence to detect efforts that are underway to harm people and property and also on physical security measures to impede plans once they are underway.

Case Study Tenerife Accident

The worst accident in aviation history provides a perfect example of how a security situation led to a safety event.

This accident helps exemplify how an attempt to address a security concern at one airport actually cause a safety disaster at another.

Significant Aviation Accidents

Measuring Safety

Safety is measure by the use of Safety Performance Indicators (SPI). SPIs are used to get a qualitative feel for how healthy the safety of the operation is at any given time, to measure whether safety is improving or deteriorating, and to compare safety in different segments of a given operation.

SPI Data

  • Early warnings that a serious incident or accident may be around the corner.
  • How often preset limits are breached or how often they are almost exceeded.
  • How willing are employees to complete and submit voluntary safety reports.
  • The frequency with which specific events are occurring.
  • The effectiveness of new strategies and policies.
  • Different benchmarks for current practices in order to measure future initiatives.

Reactive, Proactive, and Predictive Safety

  • Reactive- recognize safety threats when they appear and do something to either avoid or mitigate the hazard.
  • Proactive- programs designed to capture hazards and errors by aviators to distribute information throughout the industry so that all may benefit. Example programs include ASAP, FOQA, LOSA.
  • Predictive- investigation of potential hazards that do not yet exist, but might cause damage the very first time they make an appearance.


  • Safety requires careful thought, analysis, and action.
  • Every aviation professional should feel an ethical obligation to detect a growing accident chain and have the moral courage to intervene to break the sequence before tragedy ensues.
  • Security and safety may sound like the same term but in reality are quite different since the factors that lead up to intentional acts of harm and the factors that produce accidents are quite different.
  • The history of aviation safety is intriguing and is constantly changing to include the high-tech approaches used at this very moment. Over the past half century, commercial aviation has come to depend less on accident investigation and more on innovative measures to prevent accidents. We call it the evolution from active to proactive safety and we measure the progress through statistical analyses.


Created with images by cocoparisienne - "aircraft fly machine" • William Topa - "Up in the Blue" • moaksey - "Private Jet XA-ABA in Koh Samui" • Cibi Chakravarthi - "untitled image" • Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view - "N646J8 JetBlue Airways Airbus A320" • MalcolmMacgregor - "Okavango croc" • geralt - "statistics arrows trend"

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