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Aviation Safety Improvement Using Cost Benefit Analysis


Despite the important current efforts on safety data sharing at an international level (for example, the Global Aviation Information Network GAIN, ECCAIRS, etc.), aviation stakeholders proceed, at best, with a limited access to this data because of the lack of adequate tools. The small number of tools available seems to be focusing on data collection rather than data use. Moreover, these tools may be of little practical use, especially in the hectic, budget-tight world of aviation where managers do not seek the time to learn how to exploit these methods fully.

Project objectives

This project aims at the improvement of aviation safety through a novel approach that will allow aviation stakeholders to assess the effects of technical, managerial and political decisions at the safety level, together with the associated costs and benefits. This safety approach will provide the whole spectrum of aviation stakeholders, from EASA to civil aviation authorities, to airlines, airports, air traffic control and manufacturers with the following capabilities:

  • to understand and manage the effective risk reduction associated when adopting a safety measure, such as the installation of a device in a cockpit, or the adoption of ground equipment
  • to prioritise their investments when multiple options are potentially feasible
  • to increase safety as much as possible within the limiting budgets available
  • to justify investments in safety from a cost perspective.

Ultimately, applying cost benefit analysis to safety can help demonstrate that safety measures pay, rather than cost money.

Description of the work

The safety approach will consist of a methodology enabling aviation stakeholders to assess the effects of their technical, managerial and political decisions at the safety level, together with the associated costs and benefits. The approach will support decisions such as whether or not to introduce a safety measure, by defining priorities for investments in safety, based on the most beneficial outcome. The methodology will be implemented into a Decision Support System (DSS), providing a step-by-step procedure that will support the user throughout the different phases for assessing the cost effectiveness of safety measures. The DSS will incorporate a data pool for the estimation of risk reduction and costs related to the implementation of specific safety measures.

Cost benefit analysis of safety measures is a relatively new concept in the aviation community and decisions on safety related matters are taken without knowing precisely what will be the final effect of such decisions. This project will provide the means for taking decisions at different levels (i.e., policy, procedures and operational level) in order to understand the consequences of safety from the viewpoint of policy-makers and regulators on the one side and industry on the other. While for policy-makers and regulators, the objective is safety with affordability as a requirement, for industry the objective is affordability with safety as a requirement.

The project has been structured into seven Work Packages enabling the achievement of the project objectives. These Work Packages are:

  • Work Package 0: Technical and Administrative Coordination
  • Work Package 1: State-of-the-art and Users’ Needs
  • Work Package 2: Functional Requirements
  • Work Package 3: Development of a novel Safety Approach
  • Work Package 4: Development of Decision Support Tool
  • Work Package 5: Application of the novel Safety Approach to Case Studies
  • Work Package 6: Dissemination of the Results.

During the project, two series of workshops will be organised, focusing on real case studies, on subjects proposed by users of ASICBA. The objective of having workshops is twofold, namely to support the development of the safety approach in the first instance, and to then validate the approach.

Expected results

ASICBA will contribute to the two top priorities identified in the SRA and the Vision 2020 report:

  • to meet society’s needs for a more efficient, safer and environmentally friendly air transport;
  • to win global leadership for European aeronautics, with a competitive supply chain, including small and medium-size enterprises.

The project will also contribute to three of the four research areas listed in the Aeronautics and Space work programme. These areas are:

  • strengthening competitiveness
  • improving aircraft safety and security
  • increasing the operational capacity and safety of the air transport system.