Improving Aviation Safety Through Technology-Enabled Data Sharing

Global Aerospace Editorial Team, December 11, 2023
Aviation Safety, Innovation

Aviation is an industry with an unwavering commitment to safety. One of the most potent tools organizations have at their disposal today is aviation data sharing.

Female pilot using digital tablet in the airport.

The age-old wisdom that you learn more from your failures than your successes certainly holds true in aviation. However, given the stakes, it might be better to say “your near failures.” In our industry, miscues can have devastating consequences. Fortunately, data sharing helps individuals and organizations avoid costly mistakes.

This proactive approach involves the exchange of information regarding accidents and near-misses within the aviation community, with the overarching goal of preventing future incidents. It is a practice that continues to expand, thanks to new technologies and partnerships that make data sharing more efficient and effective.

Why Aviation Data Sharing Is Essential to Safety

Aviation data sharing plays a pivotal role in continuously enhancing safety standards within the aviation industry. By sharing information on near-misses, runway excursions, and other incidents, stakeholders contribute to a collective knowledge pool that enables others to learn from past experiences, ultimately reducing the risk of future incidents.

This collaborative approach involves parties from all areas of the aviation community, including flight crews, aviation departments, trade organizations, and others. The overwhelming support for aviation data sharing underscores the industry’s commitment to a safety culture and its dedication to learning and improvement.

Aviation Data Sharing: Overcoming the Challenges

Despite the well-documented benefits, the dissemination of aviation data faces several challenges. One significant obstacle is the aviation community’s lack of awareness about data sharing and its potential advantages. Some stakeholders may be unaware that sharing information plays a vital role in safety.

Another hurdle is the reluctance of individuals and organizations to share data due to understandable concerns about the potential negative impact on an individual’s or organization’s record and reputation. However, it is crucial to emphasize that aviation data shared in this context is de-identified, ensuring it is not linked to the people or entities involved. This anonymization process protects the contributors while supporting the broader goal of improving safety.

Addressing these challenges requires a concerted effort to raise awareness within the aviation community about the benefits of data sharing. Industry associations, regulatory bodies, and educational initiatives can play a pivotal role in promoting the importance of transparency and collaboration for the greater good of aviation safety.

How Technology Streamlines Sharing and Leverages Aviation Data More Effectively

Advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in enabling aviation data sharing. Industry-leading companies are developing sophisticated systems that collect and capitalize on aviation data. For example, in April 2023, GE Aerospace (GE) and Flight Safety International (FSI) announced a partnership to provide a new way to train pilots using data. GE is a leader in developing cutting-edge technologies for data capture and sharing. The company’s platform not only streamlines the process but also ensures that the shared information is accessible, understandable, and provides value. In turn, FSI leverages GE Digital’s data-driven C-FOQA insight to “proactively reduce risk through training focused on being prepared for possible threats—before they are real.”

The Role of Insurers in Promoting Aviation Data Sharing

Aviation insurance companies have a vested financial interest in improving safety. Fewer incidents mean fewer claims and the resulting costs. However, it would be incorrect to view that as the only interest companies like Global Aerospace have in protecting property and, more importantly, people in aviation.

Many of our team members are pilots, pilots-in-training, or have held other positions in aviation. We know and work closely with our clients and want nothing more than to ensure they can do their jobs safely. When a serious incident occurs, we feel it personally and acutely. And when an opportunity arises to reduce aviation risks, we embrace it.

Our SM4 Safety program is one example. There is no way to determine how many incidents—minor or major—the resources available through the program have prevented. But one thing is clear: Sharing best practices supports the goal of safer flight operations.

Promoting Data Sharing to Benefit Our Clients and the Industry

In our continuing efforts to help improve aviation safety, our SM4 Safety program has joined forces with GE and FSI. We are now actively promoting their collaboration and encouraging our clients and other industry stakeholders to take advantage of training based on and informed by aviation data to lower their risk and, potentially, their insurance rates. While the details of our participation are still being finalized, it may include subsidizing the cost of training.

Of course, this partnership might raise questions or concerns about Global’s involvement in a program powered by incident data. However, organizations that have utilized our SM4 resources for many years understand that we have their best interests at heart and would never use information in a way that isn’t advantageous to our policyholders. Should you want more information or additional reassurance about our involvement, we encourage you to contact us.

A Unique Opportunity to Make a Tremendous Contribution to Aviation Safety

Aviation is an industry where being a “lifelong learner” is essential. Classroom training, instructor-led flights, and other training methodologies can help pilots and others stay sharp and keep up with advancements in everything from technology to processes and procedures.

However, few lessons can match the impact of facing common errors in a simulator session that brings incident reports realistically to life. Data sharing is the practice that powers this type of education, and we are eager to see how replicated real-world scenarios will continue to help flight crews improve their skills, operate their aircraft more effectively, and avoid incidents.

If you have questions about the Global Aerospace SM4 Safety program and our support of aviation safety initiatives like this one, we invite you to contact us.