Managing risks has become a paramount consideration for organizations in every industry today. One of the key drivers for us in developing EZFORMS was to create a mobile solution that would moderate operational risk and improve accuracy in data gathering and management across almost every industry. The aviation industry, with a risk profile considerably higher than most industries, is maturing in its preference for proactive intervention over post-accident remediation. That has driven the industry in the past to develop systems such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) and the Maintenance Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) to encourage air carrier and repair station employees to voluntarily report unsafe conditions.
However, systems such as ASRS and ASAP are primarily used proactively following adverse events. Line Operations Safety Audits (LOSA) were created to address aviation safety proactively. LOSA was first operationally deployed as an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) endorsed safety program in March, 2001. After several years of development and refinement, LOSA evolved into a strategy to provide safety data comprised of normal operations in technical and human performance areas. The LOSA observations provide data to develop countermeasures to operational threats and errors. It has since been used and validated by many international airlines and is now recognized as a key element in an airline's SMS. It also provides a data-driven mechanism for measuring change. Based on the success at many LOSA carriers, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) made LOSA a central focus of its Flight Safety and Human Factors Program and endorsed it as an industry best practice for normal operations monitoring. The FAA also endorses LOSA as one of its voluntary safety programs. The success of the process in airline flight environments has now been extended into the areas of ramp and maintenance operations.
The initial development and early success of LOSA was based on ten essential characteristics:
- Peer-to-peer observations during normal operations
- Anonymous, confidential, and non-punitive data collection
- Voluntary participation
- Trusted and trained observers
- Joint management/union sponsorship
- Systematic observation instrument based on Threat and Error Management (TEM)
- Secure data collection repository
- Data verification roundtables
- Data-derived targets for enhancement
- Feedback of results to the workforce.
A Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA) is a formal process that requires expert and highly trained observers to observe operations in real-time and to collect safety-related data on environmental conditions, operational complexity, and human performance. As with any other data gathering process, the LOSA effort can produce signficant amounts of paper forms containing the observation data, leading to a physical storage challenge and many opportunities for inaccuracies during the original recording or in data entry from the physical forms.
Just as in other industries where we have successfully used the flexibility of EZFORMS to create a tablet/smart phone solution that eliminates paper, increases accuracy and elevates productivity, we see a huge opportunity for process improvement in the aviation space. We are working with airllnes to develop an innovative mobile approach to LOSA and, in the process, start to help them reinvent one of their key operational processes.