The Safety Landscape

John Franklin • 11 April 2023
in community Air Operations

What does the safety landscape look like for you and your organisation? Is your risk picture in focus, or are things a little fuzzy. With Easter now behind us, its time to start looking towards the summer. The challenge is to understand what risks the industry will face this year. Now is a good time to reflect back on the Safety Landscape panel at last year's SAFE360 Conference and also to think what might have changed since then. 

Looking at the Safety Landscape at SAFE360

At SAFE360 in September 2022, we discussed the key safety challenges for the industry with an expert, strategic panel that involved Luc Tytgat (EASA's Strategy and Safety Management Director), Giancarlo Buono (Regional Director Safety and Flight Operations, Europe, IATA), Jasper Daams (Program Director, Royal Schiphol Group), Yannick Malinge (SVP & Chief Product Safety Officer, Airbus). 

The were three main conclusions from the discussion:

  • The aviation system is stretched, at a pivot point from an environmental perspective, facing challenges to attract new talent and deal with multiple threats.
  • From a pilot perspective we see challenges with basic skills, compounded by the loss of experience across the industry.
  • There is a need to coordinate effectively across the domains, be bold and help industry to get its mojo back.

You can watch the individual video interviews we did with the panelists later in the article. 

Evolving the risk picture

We are aware that aviation is a complicated system comprising many parts. The European Safety Risk Management (SRM) process is what EASA uses to identify the top safety issues - the full list can be found in in Volume III of the European Plan for Aviation Safety 2023-2025.

More recently, Together4Safety's John Franklin (EASA's Head of Safety Promotion) spoke to our Strategy and Safety Management Director, Luc Tytgat, about his view on the top safety challenges the industry is facing. 

Four key challenges

The safety issues in Volume III of the EPAS cover many different areas and you can find more about some of the individual issues via the Safety Topic A-Z page. Over the next few weeks EASA and our collaborative partners will perform various analyses and also discuss the operational safety challenges we will face this summer. This will lead to the 2023 EASA Safety Week that will take place from 30 May to 2 June with a range of different sessions covering each operational domain - registration opens soon. 

At this stage, it is particularly worth considering 4 strategic safety challenges we face as a industry: 

  • Having enough competent staff who are operationally ready and fit for duty. It is likely no surprise that after the COVID-19 pandemic, industry is facing difficulties finding enough staff to fill all the different jobs and roles required by the increase in activity. EASA has a number of initiatives to promote aviation as a career for the next generation. It is also important that aviation organisations are seen as attractive places to work and especially employers that support staff development and care for their mental health. We also need to work more to understand the competencies that our staff need, in all job roles, and how we can support them so that they perform to the best of their abilities. If the job market perceives that aviation organisations view their employees as just another commodity to be used, then these challenges will continue for a long time to come. This negative culture needs to be challenged.
  • Ensuring the safe integration of future technology. It is commonly understood that the cumulative level of technological change increases over time. In aviation, we know things are evolving quickly. For regulators like EASA, we need to ensure that technological advancement happens in a controlled manner and that it is driven by safety. Certainly, there will be difficult conversations to be had and a lot of work to do, but I can assure you that EASA will be leading this work and always with an eye to the level of safety within the aviation system.
  • Improving our environmental credentials. The long-term future of the aviation industry requires us to focus on its long-term sustainability. It is important that we understand what this means in terms of practical actions within our organisations. The necessary improvements can then be built into the system, and we can communicate those improvements to our passengers. It is vital that the public be kept in the loop.
  • External threats to the aviation system. In an ever-changing world, we know that aviation will continue to face many external risks. From cyber and physical security to new health risks, we need to be sensitive to these threats and, together, we need to mitigate them at the system level. EASA is leading such developments though the introduction of Part-IS on Information Security and the Conflict Zone Information Platform. What I have outlined highlights the importance of moving from a purely operationally-focussed Safety Management System to a far more Integrated Management System approach that looks at the wider system. This is work that must be done together, cooperatively and sensitively and I would like to invite you to join the Agency in this very important and major work stream.

Our experts views on the safety landscape

Here are the different interviews with our strategic experts recorded at SAFE360 in September 2022. What are your thoughts on the Safety Landscape today? Add your comments at the bottom. 

Luc Tytgat - EASA


Giancarlo Buono - IATA


Jasper Daams - Royal Schiphol Group


Yannick Malinge - Airbus



Comments (2)

Ioannis Anogiatis

"The aviation system is stretched" That's quite an understatement especially in the training environment.
As FI's leave to join the airlines, the industry is robbed of its pilot generating capacity.

If an FI is training on average 3.5 students, the loss of 100 FI's to airlines equates to 3.500 pilot reduction in capacity downstream.

The FI pool, is now a small pond rapidly diminishing.

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