Research Projects

Airport Accident Analysis and Impacts to Safety Zones

Assigned to Jeffrey Spencer
Last Edited by Jeffrey Spencer

Aviation accident data has limitations for establishing airport safety zones used to guide airport-vicinity land use decisions. Establishing uniform reporting criteria across responsible agencies will assist local jurisdictions to define safety zones and apply them to maintain airport viability.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Aviation accident data has limitations for establishing airport safety zones used to guide airport-vicinity land use decisions. Establishing uniform reporting criteria across responsible agencies will assist local jurisdictions to define safety zones and apply them to maintain airport viability.

Approximately 85% of the accident data and characteristics in the current California Land Use Handbook (Handbook) is from the 1980s and 1990s, with the remaining 15% from 2000-2009. Outdated data risks inaccuracies for the purposes of establishing safety zones that airports use to assist with land use management. Previous studies cited in the Handbook have indicated that these data have been inconsistently reported, providing limited utilization. While accident data are collected by the NTSB and FAA and are used in the Handbook to establish safety zones in the airport influence area, NTSB recently switched its database system(s). Obtaining an easy, user-friendly report is neither easy nor friendly; it depends on the time period(s) for a given query. "Intuitive" data from a uniform reporting format would benefit the design airport safety zones that are used to ensure compatible land uses around airports.

NTSB rightly concerns itself with accident issues and analyses for recommendations on safety; as does FAA, but more for the sake of lessons learned. FAA collects some accident data, but for cases of lesser standing than "major" cases handled by NTSB. Neither is involved in land use as a means of airport preservation, but a source like California's Handbook is used by other states and localities to help apply safety zones. Establishing metrics for accident reporting criteria, and analysis of recent data will assist states and communities to protect airport safety zones.

The data analysis is difficult as there are not established metrics for reporting accident data, with missing fields of information and incorrect geo-location data. Many of the accident reports only include the airport as a location instead of actual latitude and longitude, which frustrates the analysis process. A significant portion of accident records had a latitude and longitude that reflected the Airport Reference Point (ARP) rather than the actual accident location. Other records when compared to the location described in the case narrative were simply inaccurate.

With the advent of newer technologies, accident data has improved, but is still difficult to analyze. GIS data and appropriate metrics for reporting will help states and communities establish robust safety zones that guide land use policies and can be included in Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans. It may also help reduce the number and frequency of overrule decisions by local authorities.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

Accident data criteria that is robust and consistent for analysis and establishing airport safety zones. States and communities can use this data to help them establish guides on land use decisions that prevent safety issues around airports.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

A new reporting requirement for aircraft accidents that is specific to reason and geolocation.

Voting

8 votes
8 up votes
0 down votes
Idea No. 590