Press release, 12th November, 2015
Aviation sector collaborates to make ultra-safe travel even safer
-Research project achieves breakthrough in sharing of information across Air Transport System-
As passenger flights in Europe are due to increase by 8,000 every day over the next four years, a new way of anticipating and reducing risks in air travel is urgently needed. PROSPERO (Proactive Safety Performance for Operations) delivers an innovative concept of safety management using risk knowledge to prevent potential crises. Over the past three years, this EU project, coordinated by Trinity College Dublin (TCD), has demonstrated that data sharing and collaboration in the ATS is feasible and delivers a competitive advantage for all partners. It contributes to the EU’s aim of reducing the air accident rate by 80% by 2020, and achieving a substantial improvement in the elimination of and recovery from human error.
Up to now, risk identification and prevention has depended on companies’ analysing their own data in isolation, and often when system faults have already occurred, leading to management of risk in a fragmented and reactive way.
PROSPERO has achieved a breakthrough by developing a network of collaboration between key partners across Europe such as airlines, airports, Air Traffic Control and ground operations. These partners share data in return for valuable risk knowledge that allows them to more effectively control and manage their businesses. PROSPERO’s risk knowledge comes from sourcing and collating large and diverse data sources. The data is processed, integrated, analysed, undergoes a pattern matching process, and is fed back to the owners. It emphasises the precursors of risk and identifies what needs to change to prevent and mitigate risk. PROSPERO takes a proactive rather than a reactive approach to identifying risk by analysing normal operations (what has gone right) as opposed to analysing systems failures (what has gone wrong).
Prof. Nick McDonald, coordinator of the project at TCD, says:
“In the PROSPERO project, we have examined some of the most common preventable safety risks in the Air Transport System (ATS), such as bird strikes and de-icing. With increasing air passenger numbers, these and other risks need to be addressed in a holistic way. PROSPERO has achieved a breakthrough in convincing different ATS actors to collaborate and share data, in the interests of the safety of the wider sector, as well as passengers. PROSPERO is working towards identifying and preventing risk in the aviation sector, and ultimately making what is an ultra-safe way to travel, even safer”.
While air travel is ultra-safe, air traffic in Europe is expected to increase from 22,000 daily flights to 30,000 daily flights between now and 2020. Maintaining current safety levels will become more challenging for airlines and airports. Risk knowledge, which integrates data from different sources, leading to more powerful models of risk, will be key to facing this challenge.
“PROSPERO has demonstrated that commercially competitive companies are willing and able to share information in conditions of trust, when confidentiality can be assured, and when this information is used to identify and manage system risks,” says Prof. McDonald. “The benefits for the ATS are widespread and represent new ways of approaching risk analysis in a holistic way, as opposed the current approach based only on the analysis of single categories of data and occurrences. This means that safety can now be approached in an integrated manner at operational level with all the parties contributing to the aviation transport service.”
Earlier this year, PROSPERO hosted an EU engagement event at the European Parliament in Brussels – moderated by Marian-Jean Marinescu MEP – to share its findings. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also hosted a PROSPERO workshop in summer 2015 to discuss potential benefits for regulation and for national and European authorities.
PROSPERO (Proactive Safety Performance for Operations) is a European Seventh Framework research project focusing on developing new ways to anticipate risks and improve aviation safety. It commenced in 2012 and ends in 2015. The project comprises 14 partner organisations across seven countries, including end-users, industry, SMEs and academic partners.
For more information, visit www.prosperofp7.eu. Follow developments of the PROSPERO project on Twitter: @PROSPEROFP7