'Front and Center When and Where It Matters Most' at the Air Safety Forum

By Kevin Cuddihy, Contributing Writer; Gavin Francis, Senior Aviation Writer; and John Perkinson, Senior Staff Writer
Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA’s president, welcomes members of the Air Safety Organization and other attendees to this year’s Air Safety Forum.

Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA’s president, opened the public days of the 67th Air Safety Forum on Wednesday, September 13, welcoming the hundreds of attendees who gathered for this year’s event at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago, Ill. “It’s especially appropriate that we’re meeting in the very room in which the Convention on International Civil Aviation was signed and created the organization that would become the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO],” he noted. “The states that signed the convention agreed on the principle of developing civil aviation with safety as a priority.”

Ambrosi promised attendees, “On safety, security, pilot assistance, and jumpseat aviation issues, ALPA is front and center when and where it matters most.”

“Moving Forward Together”

Building on the forum’s theme “Moving Forward Together,” Ambrosi asserted in his opening keynote, “Whether it’s before international aviation advisory bodies, Congress and Parliament, or local airport committees, our union works to forge regulator-airline-labor collaboration.”

ALPA’s president discussed current efforts in Congress to pass the FAA reauthorization bill, stressing that ALPA will never give in to those in the airline community who seek to weaken pilot training rules or propose an arbitrary, unstudied increase in the mandatory pilot retirement age. Ambrosi asserted, “Let’s stop trying to break a system that’s working—saving lives—and get a bill to the president for his signature before the end of this month.”

A cornerstone of the current standards, maintaining at least two highly qualified, appropriately trained, and well-rested pilots on the flight deck remains an ALPA priority. Ambrosi talked about the Association’s efforts to raise public awareness of this foundational principle through the “Safety Starts with Two” campaign.

Throughout his presentation, Ambrosi discussed ALPA’s work to address top safety and security concerns, including promoting the passage of the NOTAM Improvement Act and Cargo Flight Deck Security Act as well as tackling threats posed by ongoing 5G radar altimeter interference and the presence of drones operating near airports. The Association continues to make headway with these and other issues through diligence, advocacy, and partnerships.

“These are just a few examples of how ALPA pilots are moving forward together as we deliver on our union’s more than 90-year commitment to advancing safer skies,” he said.

Collaboration Is Key to Resolving Safety Threats

“Sometimes the events from our past help us to prepare and look toward the future,” said Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada Chair Kathy Fox in her Wednesday morning keynote address. Fox highlighted the recent anniversaries of the Swissair Flight 111 accident in 1998 near Halifax Stanfield International Airport and the 9/11 terrorist attacks three years later to point out how significant events can change commercial air transportation.

The B-737 MAX accidents in 2018 and 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic also introduced their share of challenges. Referencing 9/11 and the pandemic, Fox observed, “One thing I learned living though both events is that it’s much easier to shut the commercial aviation system down than it is to start it up again.” She acknowledged the recent “stress and strain” on the Canadian aviation industry as it’s tried to keep pace with the growing demand for air travel.

Fox asserted that the two biggest challenges currently confronting airline safety are the impact of extreme weather events on flight operations and the increased reliance on new technologies. “The pace of change in each of these areas seems to be increasing with the corresponding need to accelerate our understanding of the risks that each presents.”

New automation can sometimes introduce unintended consequences, and Fox suggested that maintaining blind trust isn’t a sound approach. “And so, for that reason—yes—two well-trained, qualified crewmembers on the flight deck are better than one,” she said.

Emphasizing that her agency is a data-driven organization, the TSB chair suggested that the best way to manage emerging threats and mitigate related safety risks is through sharing information and identifying best practices using collaborative programs like safety management systems.

“Even though we can’t predict exactly what the future holds, we can leverage the information we gather to identify trends and stay better informed as new challenges continue to present themselves,” Fox remarked.

Safety Starts with Two

Ambrosi led the “Reduced-Crew Operations: Flight Safety Starts with Two” panel discussion following the opening of the Air Safety Forum’s public session on Wednesday. The increasing threat of a reduction in the number of crewmembers on the flight deck, and the huge threat that poses to air safety, has caused significant concern among aviation safety advocates. Panelists included Capt. Bill Secord (FedEx Express), ALPA’s Reduced Crew Operations Committee chair; Capt. Paul Reuter, professional affairs board director with the European Cockpit Association; Capt. Craig Bomben, vice president of flight operations and chief test pilot for Boeing; and Gordon Margison, senior technical officer with the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA).

A reduction in the number of crewmembers on the flight deck has gained support from some airlines and aircraft manufacturers as more automation becomes possible with advances in new technologies. But many aviation safety advocates feel that the push to remove pilots from the flight deck is a financial decision that disregards safety.

“We’re not antitechnology,” said Secord. “If you look back through our history, you’ll see that we’ve always supported advances in technology. But all those innovations had one thing in common. They were integrated into the flight deck to support a fully complemented two-pilot crew.”

“Some of the obvious risks include increased workload for the remaining pilot, eliminating that critical safeguard of redundancy, decreased ability to monitor, and the inability of a single pilot to handle many of the emergency situations where you need to split responsibilities,” said Ambrosi. “We’re working with our allies at the European Cockpit Association and IFALPA to make our voices heard and raise public awareness through the Safety Starts with Two campaign. This is something that’s on the horizon, it’s real, and it needs our utmost attention.”

Some in Europe are already proposing reduced-crew operations, calling it “eMCO” (extended minimum-crew operations). This attempt to put profit before safety is in reality single-pilot operations during cruise on long-haul flights. Data and history both indicate that airline safety depends on having at least two qualified, highly trained, and well-rested pilots on the flight deck at all times.

Air Safety Forum 2023

“We Each Have a Story”

“We each have a story” of where we were on 9/11 began Capt. A.J. Berlotti (Alaska), ALPA’s Air Safety Organization (ASO) Aviation Jumpseat Group chair, in opening the panel discussion “Never Forgetting 9/11: What the Past Two Decades Have Taught Us About Aviation Security.”

Together with panelists Capt. James Berzon (United), ALPA’s Aviation Jumpseat vice chair; Capt. Wolfgang Koch (Delta), ALPA’s Aviation Security Group chair; Capt. Darrin Dorn (Alaska), ALPA’s Aviation Security Group vice chair; and F/O Paul Emery (United), ALPA’s Aviation Jumpseat director for education and training, the group discussed pressing topics such as the importance of the jumpseat, unruly passengers, the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program, and one level of security for cargo aircraft.

Koch talked about the recent increases in in-flight disturbances, stating, “Unruly passengers isn’t a good name for it—it’s called criminal behavior.” Dorn echoed that, adding, “Let’s hold these people accountable.”

Berzon pointed out how following proper jumpseating procedures can support the flight crew when these situations occur. By checking in with the captain, introducing yourself, and asking for a ride, he said, you’re letting the pilots know you’re in the back and ready to assist if needed. Berlotti shared a personal story of assisting as a uniformed jumpseater with an unruly passenger situation, allowing the pilots to avoid turning around or diverting the flight because they knew they had a trusted resource in the cabin.

The FFDO program is another important area for security, and a huge success story. Dorn noted that the 20th anniversary of the first FFDO class took place in April and that more than 20,000 FFDOs have been trained and more than a million missions completed every year.

Emery reviewed the importance of continuing and consistent education in multiple areas, including jumpseat etiquette, crew safety and self-defense, and the history of 9/11. That education, he said, helps show “why we do what we do, why the rules are in place, and the importance of following protocol.”

All panelists agreed that removing the “cargo carveout” must be a priority. “Those pilots shouldn’t have more risk than I do,” proclaimed Berlotti. Koch, who earlier praised the advancement of secondary barriers in the industry, was critical of the fact that cargo aircraft don’t even have a primary barrier protecting them from any noncrewmembers on the flight.

Applauding ALPA’s Cooperative Approach

Jamie Rhee, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), applauded the efforts of ALPA pilots during her Wednesday keynote. “Your collective voice in advocating for safety enhancements, regulatory measures, and promoting a safety culture helps this industry take a very holistic approach to safety and security for pilots, for ground crews, and, of course, our passengers,” she said.

Rhee talked about the CDA, which supports both Chicago O’Hare and Chicago Midway International Airports, and the massive passenger throughput these two facilities manage. In 2022, O’Hare processed approximately 68.3 million passengers while offering service to 225 destinations with 44 airlines. Midway served 19.9 million passengers, providing flights to 89 locations on seven carriers.

The CDA commissioner also discussed upcoming facility improvements and a new education and outreach initiative for Chicago’s youth.

In her concluding remarks, Rhee acknowledged, “The work done by ALPA doesn’t go unnoticed. As the world’s largest airline pilots’ union, your organization’s representation of pilots’ concerns is a critical voice in our airport operations worldwide. Through our relationship, we have access to your expertise on airline safety and security, which helps shape our programs and contributes to the CDA’s overall success.”

“The First and Last Point of Contact”

Capt. Jeff Sedin (United), the ASO’s Airport & Ground Environment Group chair, led a panel titled “Runway Safety: The First and Last Point of Contact” that included representatives from government, air traffic control, and industry.

Along with Capt. Robert Devadason (JetBlue), an ALPA airport safety liaison (ASL) at Washington National Airport, the panel included Scott Proudfoot from the FAA, Bridget Singratanakul from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), and Keith Wisniewski, general manager of airfield operations at O’Hare Airport.

Sedin noted the recent news coverage of runway incursions, stating that ALPA is collaborating with government and industry and “working around the clock to eliminate these threats to safety.”

While any runway incursion is unwanted, Singratanakul pointed out that last year there were 52.5 million takeoffs and landings—opportunities for an incursion—and only 1,730 runway incursions. “You’re doing exceptional at your job,” she told the audience. Singratanakul emphasized using new and improved technology to reduce that even further. “The more tools we give our pilots and controllers, the safer we are; the more tools we have, the less severe incursions are.”

Proudfoot explained that every airport is required to review safety risks annually, and those are then looked at locally, regionally, and nationally. He encouraged ASLs to attend those meetings and establish a relationship with their airports. Together, Proudfoot said, we can “identify risks, identify trends, and come up with plans to reduce those issues.”

Wisniewski provided input from the local level, stating that at O’Hare, “Runway safety is our number-one priority.” He commented that the airport averages approximately 1,000 arrivals and 1,000 departures each day and that “we’re out there every day” doing reviews and inspections.

The panelists all agreed that training, standardizations, and “getting back to basics” would help improve runway safety. “Procedures are in place for a reason,” said Singratanakul, and training will help everyone follow those procedures. Devadason explained how nonstandard lighting or markings can cause confusion, while Proudfoot emphasized the importance of using and learning a common language so all parties understand the exact meaning of a term.

“We’re force multipliers for our airline,” Devadason emphasized, noting that pilots need to remain watchful and vigilant while on duty.

Addressing the Increase in Unruly Passenger Incidents

Aviation security experts discussed ongoing challenges associated with unruly passenger events during a Wednesday session. Koch moderated the “Confronting the Increase in Unruly Passenger Events” panel discussion that brought together representatives from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the FAA, and the FBI to address the increase in in-flight passenger incidents in recent years.

“Back in December 2020, before the pandemic hit its peak, we prosecuted about 100 cases every month nationwide,” said Taneesha Marshall, assistant chief counsel in the FAA’s Aviation Litigation Division. “Then in March 2021, we had 720 cases in that one month. Those numbers were so significant and unprecedented that we created a special team within my division just to address passenger interference cases.” Although the numbers have decreased considerably since the peak in 2021, as of this January, the FAA was still seeing approximately 300 cases every month.

As the industry and regulators attempt to understand the cause for the increase in these incidents, they’ve struggled to find a solution. Enforcement actions have risen significantly, as have the proposed fines, and cases are referred for criminal prosecution when warranted. But these measures are only imposed after an event takes place. One initiative that ALPA is supporting is increased funding for the FFDO program.

“If there’s not a law enforcement officer or a federal flight deck officer on board that aircraft, there’s no law enforcement,” said David Rodski, the FBI’s airport liaison agent coordinator for Baltimore Washington International Airport. “You’re in an enclosed space, and it doesn’t take very much.”

“We need to shift the culture so that if we see something, we actually say something,” said Serge Potapov, TSA executive director of Flight Programs in the Flight Operations Division. “There are probably indicators out there showing some type of potential for disruptive behavior that we could likely address on the ground before it manifests itself on board the aircraft.”

TSA Administrator Discusses Security Threats

David Pekoske, the TSA administrator, began his keynote presentation on Wednesday acknowledging the collaborative dialogue his agency has been able to establish with ALPA. “We’re aligned completely in our goals to make sure that aviation stays as safe and secure as possible,” he said, noting, “We can’t do what we need to do if we don’t work together.”

Pekoske discussed how challenges to aviation security continue to evolve, pointing to domestic and cybersecurity threats as the agency’s latest concerns. “We just issued amendments to aviation data airport and airline security programs that require certain efforts on the part of owners and operators to improve their cybersecurity preparedness and, importantly, their cybersecurity resilience.” He underscored the importance of the TSA remaining flexible in its security approach and avoiding the application of “cookie-cutter” defenses that are predictable and easily evaded.

The administrator thanked ALPA for its support of the highly successful FFDO program, operated by the Federal Air Marshal Service that’s now in its 20th year. “It’s important to have that additional layer of protection,” he said.

Pekoske also mentioned the Known Crewmember Program®, which currently provides expedited security screening and clearance to sterile areas of airports for flight crews. The TSA plans to replace this program with Expedited Crew Access, a new approach that will employ biometric technology to enhance security effectiveness and operational efficiency.

In addition, he discussed the sustained level of unruly passenger incidents airlines are experiencing; the need for flight attendant self-defense training; better management of unmanned aircraft systems; and improving air cargo security measures, particularly on international flights.

As one of the challenges the TSA is facing, Pekoske highlighted the 9/11 security fee included in the price of airline tickets. While the funds generated were originally intended for training and salaries for federal security screeners and law enforcement personnel, the government has diverted billions of dollars of these collected fees to address causes that have no relation to aviation or aviation security.

Senior DOT Official Vows to Uphold Aviation Safety Standards

“ALPA has been a leader in aviation safety since 1931, and this forum, which is specifically focused on safety, is core to what ALPA stands for,” said Carlos Monje, the Department of Transportation’s under secretary of Transportation for Policy, during his Thursday morning keynote. “It’s in large part thanks to your efforts that the United States has gone for 13 years without a fatal commercial aircraft crash.”

During his presentation, Monje thanked ALPA’s president for his endorsement of Michael Whitaker who was recently nominated to serve as FAA administrator. “A safety culture starts at the top, and having a permanent administrator at the helm is key to managing the world’s largest, busiest, and most complex aviation system.”

The DOT under secretary also acknowledged U.S. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, which includes huge investments in safety projects and airport and air traffic facility improvements. Monje also raised the issue of the Part 135 safety regulations loophole, which allows a nonscheduled air charter carrier to bypass security screening protocols for passengers and their baggage. “This rule, if left unchecked, could pose an increased risk to safety,” he said, adding that it’s currently under review.

In addition, Monje addressed the status of the FAA reauthorization bill, observing that certain aviation stakeholders are trying to reduce the number of flight hours required to earn an air transport pilot certificate. “I want to assure you that we’re holding strong on the 1,500-hour rule, and we will not compromise on safety,” he pledged.

Monje also discussed the status of the installation of secondary flight deck barriers, measures to create aviation career pathways for underrepresented groups, and efforts to combat foreign anticompetitive behavior that could harm American jobs.

“The path forward for aviation in America faces many challenges. However, by continuing to invest in the underlying technology infrastructure and, above all, in the people who’ve made this the safest aviation system in the world, we’ll continue to secure America’s place as the gold standard of aviation safety,” Monje concluded.

“How We Help Our Members Every Day”

Pilot Assistance was the focus of the panel discussion “Support for Our Members: Accessing the Resources of ALPA’s Pilot Peer Support Programs.”

Capt. Travis Ludwig (United), ALPA’s Pilot Assistance Group chair, led a panel consisting of the chairs of all six Pilot Assistance groups: F/O Ellen Brinks (Delta), Aeromedical; Capt. Tom O’Toole (Jazz Aviation), Pilot Assistance Canada; Capt. John McFadden (United), Critical Incident Response Program (CIRP); F/O Craig Ohmsieder (Spirit), Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS); F/O Carrie Braun (JetBlue), Pilot Peer Support; and Capt. Tom Letson (Delta), Professional Standards.

Referring to Pilot Assistance as “How we help our members every day,” Ludwig reinforced its place within the ASO, remarking, “At its heart, Pilot Assistance is a safety program. We help our pilots be safe.” He stated that the pandemic highlighted the group’s importance and asked each of the chairs to discuss their specific areas.

Letson spoke about the history of Professional Standards as the first discipline of Pilot Assistance dating back to the 1930s, explaining how it focused on a peer-to-peer model that’s become the basis for Pilot Assistance. He also emphasized the need for confidentiality, which earned agreement from the other chairs.

From the oldest Pilot Assistance discipline, the discussion shifted to the newest, as Braun discussed the genesis of Pilot Peer Support. She noted “a hole in the safety net” regarding pilot mental health, and explained how Pilot Peer Support is geared to address that.

Ohmsieder related how the HIMS program, an occupational substance abuse peer intervention and treatment program, began in the mid-1970s, and today “pretty much every airline in the United States has a HIMS program.” He touted the team approach—“the company has a part in it, unions have a part in it, the FAA has a part in it”—and highlighted the success rate of the program. HIMS, he concluded, is about “saving lives, saving careers, saving families.”

McFadden remarked that CIRP dates back to the Aloha Airlines Flight 243 accident in 1988 and the experiences of F/O Mimi Tompkins after the accident. Her circumstances led to the creation of the program to help other pilots recover from the effects of traumatic stress. McFadden explained that a trained volunteer will reach out after an accident or incident to check on a pilot, who regularly remarks, “I’m really glad you called me.”

Brinks commented that most of the calls coming to her team involve pilots who’ve either lost their medical or have a major health issue, stating that they were extremely busy during the pandemic. “We’re not doctors,” she said, “but we’re here to point you in the right direction.”

O’Toole discussed the growth of Pilot Assistance Canada, explaining how his group focuses on cross-training among all the above disciplines, as the members serve fewer pilots and tend to have fewer volunteers. He also noted how the larger pilot groups have come together to support the smaller groups in times of need. “Every country has its own culture, and every airline has its own culture,” he said. “You have to respect that.”

Meet the Doctors Panel Discusses Certification Streamlining Trends

A perennial favorite of Air Safety Forum attendees, the “Meet the Doctors: Navigating the Latest Changes in Medical Certification Policy” panel, moderated this year by Brinks, examined various issues surrounding pilot medical certification policy. Panelists included Dr. Susan Northrup, the FAA federal air surgeon; Dr. Tyler Brooks, Transport Canada’s director of medicine; and Dr. Quay Snyder, president and CEO of the Aviation Medicine Advisory Service (AMAS), ALPA’s Aeromedical Office.

Northrup observed that shortly after she assumed her current post in 2021, she participated in an industry stakeholders’ summit, which included ALPA. The product of that gathering was a list of 15 priority items for her office. Northrup provided numerous examples of how her organization, since that initial meeting, has used the latest risk-based science to eliminate unnecessary certification steps and procedures, increasing certification process efficiency and transparency.

Brooks acknowledged that Transport Canada is also trending toward establishing minimum requirements and focusing on what’s medically necessary, adding, “Each case is being assessed on its own merits.” He noted that policies are evolving based on new findings and that the agency is transitioning from its handbook for civil aviation medical examiners to a modularized approach for disseminating policy and guidelines.

The panelists discussed the issue of raising the mandatory pilot retirement age and concerns about cognitive decline and increased fatigue levels amid congressional debate on the matter. ICAO currently sets retirement age at 60 for single-pilot air transport operations and age 65 for multipilot operations. Among other considerations, current ICAO policy prevents airline pilots older than 65 from flying international routes.

Snyder referenced a 2019 study contracted by the European Aviation Safety Agency that looked at concerns about the potential increase in pilot incapacitations, ultimately recommending the current age rules.

In recent years, both the FAA and Transport Canada have invested resources to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health problems to encourage pilots who need assistance to seek treatment. The panelists reviewed medications for situational depression and anxiety, the availability of Pilot Peer Support and other ALPA Pilot Assistance programs, and the free consultations available to Association members that AMAS provides.

One Level of Safety for the All-Cargo Pilot

Capt. Rich Hughey (FedEx Express), ALPA’s Cargo Committee chair, led the “One Level of Safety for the All-Cargo Pilot” panel during the Thursday afternoon session of the forum, addressing the urgent need to extend one level of safety to Part 121 all-cargo flight operations. Citing statistics since 2009, he noted that all-cargo pilots are seven to 10 times more likely to be involved in an accident with multiple fatalities than their passenger counterparts. Sixteen cargo pilots and crew have lost their lives since 2009.

“From my perspective, the higher accident rate in cargo is potentially because of an overreliance on cost-benefit methods,” Hughey said. “Specifically, that’s the analysis of the financial benefit of implementing a safety protection versus the cost of that implementation. When safety and security decisions are solely based on cost-benefit methods, the math rarely adds up for the cargo pilot.”

The Cargo Committee’s recent efforts have included supporting the Cargo Flight Deck Security Act, which was introduced in June by Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), that requires all-cargo aircraft to be equipped with intrusion-resistant flight deck doors. Committee members also continue to advocate for risk mitigations in the transport of dangerous goods by requiring active fire-suppression systems in all cargo compartments and improving fire resistance of cargo containers and covers by developing material standards.

“Every ALPA pilot in this room, guess what. You’re a cargo pilot,” said Aviation Security Group Vice Chair Dorn. “Whether you’re hauling passenger bags or overnight express cargo, every pilot is a cargo pilot. And our mantra is ‘One Level of Safety.’ So we all have to get on board and support our cargo side.”

Other panelists included Crystal Fallin, operation safety analyst with the FAA’s Office of Accident Analysis and Prevention; Capt. Russ Leighton, vice president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations; and Richard Hill, chief scientific and technical advisor with the FAA’s Fire Safety Research and Development.

Transport Canada Praises “Strong and Productive” Relationship with ALPA

The final keynote presentation of the 2023 Air Safety Forum was delivered on Thursday by Andy Cook, Transport Canada’s associate inspector general of civil aviation. He emphasized his background within aviation, not as a bureaucrat, and discussed the priorities of his organization.

Cook remarked that he spent time as a military pilot, civil aviation pilot, and operations manager before joining Transport Canada. “As a government regulator,” he continued, “I don’t come from a purely bureaucratic pedigree.”

Cook returned to the theme of safety often during his comments, stating, “Safety isn’t just one part of the job, it is the job.” He added, “Civil aviation is safety, only safety, and always safety,” noting that ALPA and Transport Canada remain in lockstep regarding the importance of safety.

Cook touched on Transport Canada’s many priorities, including flight-time/duty-time regulations and fatigue risk management systems, pilot shortages, and 5G interference issues with radar altimeters.

Cook closed his remarks by praising the “strong and productive relationship” between Transport Canada and ALPA and told attendees, “I have and will trust my life with any of you, because I know you have the skills to get me to my destination.”

Final Panel Examines Future of Aviation Safety

The “Safety Multipliers for Future Operations” panel discussion was the closing presentation of this year’s forum. Moderated by Capt. Steve Jangelis (Delta), ALPA’s ASO Aviation Safety Group chair, the panel of six industry safety experts discussed how air transportation is looking ahead to enhance safety through data analytics and new technologies.

Panelists included Dr. Kirk Vining, Boeing Commercial Aircraft’s chief pilot for product development; Craig Hoskins, Airbus vice president of safety, security, and technical affairs; Sasha Johnson, United Airlines vice president of corporate safety; Kymberly Pyle; the FAA’s executive director for the Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention; Kyle Quakenbush, MITRE’s lead aviation systems engineer and Commercial Aviation Issue Analysis Team chair; and Dr. Nikunj Oza, NASA’s leader of its Data Sciences Group at the agency’s Ames Research Center.

Vining and Hoskins talked about new sources of aircraft data collection as well as advancements in aerodynamics and alloys. They also looked at the need for greater cybersecurity protections and current aircraft manufacturing efforts to achieve the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050.

Johnson explained the ways her airline is comparing various data streams to improve operational safety. Among the many issues her carrier is monitoring is turbulence. Recent data has identified an increase in turbulence incidents, and areas of interest include how the company routes aircraft, air traffic control communications, and the nature of related injuries.

The Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) system, incorporating both public and proprietary data sources (i.e., networks like ASAP and FOQA), is at the heart of the industry’s data-sharing effort. In her remarks, Pyle stressed the importance of expediting data analysis “because we know we don’t want to wait six months to find out why something went wrong,” she said.

Quakenbush’s remarks dovetailed with those of Pyle, adding that his organization uses ASIAS data to look for unexpected results that may help identify new safety “hot spots.” MITRE is working on a more methodical, collaborative approach to better position ASIAS for new applications in safety by encompassing the use of artificial intelligence research.

The current aviation system faces enormous challenges in keeping pace with increasing market demand for advancements in autonomy and other emerging technologies. To better position the industry, Oza discussed NASA’s “Sky for All” initiative. The intent is to apply national strategic planning to create a more holistic airspace ecosystem, including features like data-driven anomaly detection to better anticipate problems before they occur.

This article was originally published in the October 2023 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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