Captain Bert Bonke, from ECA, about D4S

On Air, Issue 17: Data for Safety
Captain Bert Bonke, Chairman Flight Data Working Group, of ECA
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Captain Bert Bonke, Chairman ECA’s Flight Data Working Group

1) What is your role in the D4S “team”?
I am the co-chairman of the D4S Technical Board (TB). Together with Erick Ferrandez and the other TB members, I am responsible for the day to day operation of the programme. In this startup phase that involves drafting the procedures and agreements and processing the inputs from other technical board members and presenting the end product to the Steering Board for approval.

As an organisation, ECA is one of the key stakeholders in the European Civil Aviation industry. Representing 38.000 airline pilots, we are the key representative of the profession. As such we commit to work with the industry and EASA to maintain and improve the high safety record of European aviation. We see our role in D4S as twofold: On one hand, we bring the expertise and first-hand experience from the “front end” of the industry to the various task teams, thereby helping to give the operational context input to the data analysis and help translate the findings of the programme into tangible practical safety solutions.
On the other hand, we strive to be seen as a “purveyor of trust”, not only to the pilots from the operators involved in the programme but also by the different stakeholders, whether EASA or industry.

2) How will this kind of initiative further improve aviation safety?
First of all, it is important to emphasize that the D4S programme relies on trust and a just culture approach. Because both of these elements are incorporated at every level of the programme, D4S will be able to bring more information together than ever before.

If successful, D4S will allow us to get an overarching overview of the European aviation system from a systemic safety perspective.  With the existing safety initiatives, whether we look at an occurrence reporting system or an operator’s FDM programme, we are only able to analyse and focus on safety issues on very limited scope, with regard to  an operator, an airport, an ANSP…. The vast amount of data available to D4S will enable us to identify less obvious and possibly latent systemic issues that would otherwise remain “below the radar”.
3) In your opinion, how does it compare or differs from other data collection initiatives?
Generally speaking, data collection in aviation tends to focus on “events” such as exceedances, incidents and accidents. This means that the vast majority of flights are hardly analysed. With D4S we not only open up the possibility to analyse all flights, but, as menitioned before, we will be able to compare data across the entire European Aviation. In practice this means that an individual organisation can compare their own data against the aggregate results of all other programme members. At the same time the aggregate results themselves provide a powerful basis for EASA to further improve their rulemaking process.

4) What added value do you see generated by the D4S project?
Beyond the core aims of the D4S and the added value that the programme is supposed to bring to the European aviation stakeholders, it has the potential, just like many other collaborative safety initiatives, to build trustful relationships between stakeholders. Whether regulators, operators, manufacturers or professional associations like ECA, stakeholders are naturally often at odds with one another’s goals and aspirations. On the other hand we all share a common cause when it comes to safety of the traveling public, whose trust is the backbone of the commercial success of the industry. Collaborative programmes such as D4S give the industry the chance to come together and work on a common goal and interact on a deeper level, away from political or commercial issues. As such, ECA is convinced that the success of D4S and the way the stakeholders will learn to cooperate within this programme as well as in other safety initiatives will be a good indicator of the maturity of the industry as a whole.

Captain Bert Bonke

Bert Bonke is an active airline pilot since 1987 and has flown various aircraft types, currently as Captain and route instructor on B777 and B787 aircraft for a major Dutch airline. Since 2002 he has been involved in accident and incident investigation for Dutch ALPA in their Accident Investigation Group. Since 2012 he joined ECA’s Flight Data Working Group of which he is currently chairman. In that capacity he is active as co-chairman of the Technical Board of the Data4Safety programme.