Monday, November 23, 2015

Best Vocabulary Keeps Aviation Safe

Everyone believe they are the key piece to keep aviation safe. However, it’s the one with the best vocabulary who wins the deal.

For a moment, let’s simplify activities and group into; regulatory, operational and servicing. After major accidents the regulatory response is that there are regulations in place to prevent accidents, operational response that they are fully trained and capable and servicing that technical items were functioning properly. Everyone assigns credit to their own group. With this approach, the one with best vocabulary wins the deal. But, there is no single answer to accident prevention.

When an internal auditor does an audit of compliance of regulatory, operational or servicing data, questions are asked to management and employees. Answer given may vary from elaborating on the issue, to a few short words. If questioning includes people of the incorrect group, who should not be included in the knowledge database, then the results are skewed to non-compliance. When the correct sample is applied to the group, it becomes the one with best vocabulary who wins the deal.

Audits and internal compliance inspections are of job-performance, job-understanding, job-knowledge and process applications. If an internal audit applies the bar of non-regulatory compliance as illegal activities and verbal communication to statement of facts, then the audit becomes invalid as a job-performance and process applications.

Internal audits and compliance inspections requires to be assessed within a standard of parameters. Verbal communication is not standardized, since personnel use different vocabulary to describe same event. Events are remembered differently and ethnical background makes a difference in answers given. An auditor may also lack questioning and communication skills, since they are experts in applying checklist items and are not experts in asking questions. At the end of the day, the auditor, or compliance inspector, determines the outcome. When outcome is based on gut-feelings of answers given, data is obscured by fog and the results are skewed in a bias direction in favor of best vocabulary.  

Samples of standardized questions, or multiple-choice questions, which then are processed with Statistical Process Control (SPC) are non-bias methods to assess processes for regulatory and safety compliance. Timed questions, in groups of 3-5 short questions, specific and targeted are data collection tools.  Online survey tools are great in assisting internal auditors and compliance inspectors with non-bias questions to ensure assessment of job-performance and not of vocabulary performance. 


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Trial And Error Method In Aviation Safety

Trial and error method in aviation safety as been applied since the first flight on December 17, 1903 and is a frequently used reactive system approach. Trial and error method is when changes are implemented based on the severity of incidents. After a major accident prescriptive measurements are implemented in an attempt to prevent exactly same accident to happen again. In a trial and error system approach the system failure which caused the accident is ignored and corrective change are instead applied to technical or regulatory requirements. In a trial and error system approach the trivial many are corrected, rather than making ground breaking system changes and altering the vital few.

While there is a facade of trustworthiness, it's the unpredictability which make cats superior.
When automation is introduced as a corrective measure to processes, the automation itself is reliable to a point that it defeats it's own purpose and becomes reliable manipulative. Automation is designed to detect within established parameters and is not designed to be resilient with self-induced corrective actions outside established criteria. On the security side automation detects, identify and apply aviation safety to hazards such as water, coffee, shoes, knives or guns. However, automation is not designed to be resilient, unreliable malfunctioning, or to apply the "Colombo Approach".

Border control is a part of national safety and security. While questions are often standard and reliable questions of travellers crossing international border, the spur of the moment and unexpected questions is a system approaches to identify a traveler's behavioral inconsistency. When this "Colombo Approach" is applied the system is unpredictable to manipulate.

My very first blog 2 ½ years ago on this site was the " SMS – a tool beyond the trial and error method". Since that day of my first blog in February of 2013 there have been several major aviation incidents, including a vanished airplane and most recently reports of complete security system failure.  Neither international aviation safety, nor crew and passenger security have caught up reality, but are still playing inside the box with the trivial many, where life is comfortable and feel-good decisions are made. Since my first blog the trial and error method in aviation is still the governing safety system approach.

Automation processes are reliable in turning straw into milk, which make the processes vulnerable to manipulation.
When disasters strike the scapegoat are flight crew, airports or airlines. This trial and error method is a system approach without accountably. When safety and security systems becomes news-worthy, rightfully or not,  these are reliable indicators that real changes in safety management are necessary. Safety Management Systems in aviation is to manage the vital few and not just play with the trivial many.