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Secondary domain



The increasing availability and improved quality of incident and operation data may improve the decision-making ability of risk managers, but the new data environment requires new methodologies, processes, and tools. Many airlines and authorities have found that computer-aided scanning and analysis of FDR data on a routine basis to be a powerful safety tool by identifying exceedances, atypical flight signatures or reduced margins and assisting the safety risk managers (domain experts and field practitioners) in understanding the causes. The changing data environment may also bring new issues to light.

Potential hazard

  1. Risk managers becoming overwhelmed by data; the information may be “hiding in plain sight”
  2. Necessary data not reaching the appropriate parties
  3. Inaccurate maintenance data that is critical for calculations such as weight/balance and fuel loads

    The following important characteristics for shared databases may not be common among stakeholders

  4. Parameter nomenclature, instrumentation accuracy, recorder resolutions and sampling rates
  5. Filtering and processing of the data, while airborne and by the ground station
  6. Data acquisition units across different aircraft fleet
  7. Data sources for the same or similar parameters
  8. Algorithms and techniques for deriving parameters (Figure 3)
  9. Event and incident definitions
  10. Unit standards and conversion calculations
  11. User operational environments
  12. Safety and reporting cultures
  13. Use and knowledge of statistical systems
  14. Identification of which data should be shared; maintain user definitions but develop a “translator” for common data
  15. Develop policies for sharing data; need to know, confidentiality rules; establish data “owners”
  16. Ensure data sharing has buy-in from ALL participating groups
  17. With all group representation, establish data flow; who needs data from whom, when, how often.

Corroborating sources and comments

Aviation Maintenance Software Tools;

Mid-term NextGen Operational Improvement 109304 – Enhanced Safety Information Analysis and Sharing;

Michael R. Poole, P.Eng.
Managing Partner, Flightscape
ISASI Member M03278
David Mawdsley, CEng, FRAeS
Director – Safety
Safety, Operations & Infrastructure, IATA

This is an excellent issue; one that may be exacerbated by good intentions (i.e., collecting incident data is good but can increase the difficulty of effective data management.

Large databases may not be “hazards” per se; that is they do not “cause” harm. However, ineffective data management may be a “barrier” to preventing hazards.

The characteristics of maintenance (and other relevant aviation databases should be categorized similar to the following (1) Organizational pre-requisites (9, 11, 12, 13, 14), must be established first
(2) Standard definitions and metrics (1, 4, 6, 7, 10), established to collect “good’ data
(3) Ability to collect good data (technical) (2, 3, 4), established to overcome technical issues
(4) Ability to collect good data (operational) (2, 3, 4, 8), established to overcome operational issues
(5) Ability to analyze data (reliable and valid) (1, 5, 10), established to get best use of data

Without (1) and (2), it may not be worth solving (3), (4) & (5)

The information management issue is even more problematic considering data may be coming from organizations that have merged (different definitions/standards), and from 3rd party repair stations.

Maintenance tracking systems, while strongly recommended and which are a prudent investment, do not supplant an actual log book. “Even though the price for one of the more widely used computerized maintenance tracking systems costs in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 per year for a Falcon 900, as an example, it will be difficult to maintain a modern aircraft of that type without a system such as that. But, while it serves as a valuable adjunct and provides helpful validation, no system, regardless of cost or capability, replaces or supersedes an airframe, engine or avionics log book.

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