Research Projects

Safety Performance Indicators and Data Collection for Airports

Assigned to Erik Bullard
Last Edited by Erik Bullard

Conduct research and develop practical guidance on the methods used by airports and other industries to measure and communicate safety performance through safety performance indicators, and assess the effectiveness of an SMS. Include methods by which airports communicate safety performance indicators and trends to leadership.

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

A major challenge to improving safety at any airport is in determining how safety performance is measured, what data supports that determination, and what information can be used to indicate the effectiveness of the safety management system (SMS). Typical methods to measure safety performance include tracking the number of accidents, or the number of days without an accident. A step ahead of these measures is in the calculation of a rate of these undesired events, perhaps per aircraft operations, per passenger embarkations, or per period of time. As airports continue to institute SMS, a key element of the Safety Assurance component of the SMS is in the establishment of safety performance indicators. Such indicators provide airport leaders with proactive measures upon which action might be taken to prevent accidents from occurring. SMS effectiveness is often determined through audits to ensure the processes are in place and functioning, however quantitative measures of effectiveness and methods to measure the economic benefits of safety management would help the industry achieving best safety management practices.
The development and establishment of meaningful and acceptable safety performance indicators has proven to be one of the biggest challenges during SMS development. Providing guidance to airports on what information to use, why use that information, how to objectively gather the data, and effectively manage safety trends is needed, along with methodologies to determine if and how safety performance is changing based upon their use. In addition, the research should explore the means by which forward leaning airports and leaders in other industries communicate safety performance via the indicators, perhaps through performance dashboards or regular reporting mechanisms.

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

A report with practical guidance on the methods used by airports and other industries to measure and communicate safety performance through safety performance indicators, and assess the effectiveness of an SMS.

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Idea No. 355