Flybe and NATS join forces in world-first for airline industry

08 June 2012

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline and National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the UK’s leading air navigation service provider, has announced a proactive, ground-breaking collaborative safety initiative, FLOSS (Flybe Line Operational Safety Survey), in what is a world first for adapting the benefits of NATS ‘Day2Day’ safety process for use within an airline.

Captain Ian Baston, Flybe UKs Director of Flight Operations and Dr David Harrison, NATS Safety Director, together welcomed high profile industry guests to the official launch at the Flybe Training Academy at Exeter International Airport where details of the FLOSS initiative were shared and plans for upcoming observational studies outlined.

FLOSS takes a proactive view of safety performance, enabling safety improvement activities to be developed and delivered further by both Flybe and NATS in fine-tuning the interface between operational staff and controllers. It is a proactive safety process and its methodology is based on the identification of skills and behaviour through observational surveys, which mitigate known risks in the operational environment. These observations of flight deck activities can be used to determine not only the activities that are completed correctly and successfully by crews, but also activities or situations that need to be highlighted before they can become a safety concern.

The pioneering project has been officially launched following an 18-month trial study into Altitude/Flight Level Compliance activity during which time observations into best practice on Flybe Q400 aircraft were carried out, delivering valuable data for flight operations management and informing improved communication procedures.

Captain Baston comments: “We are very pleased to have had this opportunity to pioneer FLOSS with our partners from NATS which highlights the close working relationship and high level of co-operation between us.  The success of the initial Altitude/Flight Level Compliance trial project proved of significant benefit. The ability of FLOSS to provide us with a greater level of understanding of actual operating procedures has huge potential in negating and addressing areas of possible concern and to pro-actively improving the already high safety standards employed throughout the airline industry.”

Dr Harrison added: ”At NATS, safety is our first priority and we are constantly developing new ways to further enhance our already excellent safety standards. Day2Day has proved very successful in our own operations in developing and enhancing safety so the opportunity to use it with an airline such as Flybe has been a significant further step forward in improving safety throughout the industry.”

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has added its support to FLOSS with Head of Human Factors, James Reed commenting that the “local observation of safety- critical tasks for learning and development purposes provides us all with the confidence: it is those on the front line that contribute much to mitigating risks that may or may not be apparent within an established safety management system”.

Flybe and NATS will be embarking on a new series of observations using FLOSS methodology during the 2012-13 IATA Winter season, whilst specific data remains confidential to Flybe, the sharing of best practise findings will undoubtedly prove of eventual benefit to the industry at large.

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