Safety-perceptions survey reveals reservations

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Responses to an extensive survey of aviation industry personnel reveal that 60% believe aviation safety is improvingbut the most frequently expressed reservations concern a reducing pool of expert employees, management style and priorities, and complacency.

Flightglobal's advisory service Ascend carried out the survey of more than 2,000 people, across all all levels of aerospace and air transport. Those working for airlines or in the aerospace manufacturing sectors make up the highest proportion, but MRO and insurance/finance are also represented.

The questions were intended to reveal the perceptions of industry safety standards by those within it or serving it. More than 20% of participants are very senior management, including chief executives; 23% team leaders or heads of department; and 38% qualified professionals. European respondents make up 46% of the total, while 23% are in North America and 16% in Asia-Pacific.

Asked whether safety has over the last five years improved, stayed about the same or got worse, 60% say it has improved, and 31% that it has remained the same. Expectations for the next five years show 52% think it will improve, while 33% say it will stay the same and 13% that it will get worse.

Provided with 12 potential threats to safety, the participants were asked what level of threat each one represented. When it comes to identifying "significant" threats, 33% cite a shortage of experienced personnel; 38% the risk of fatigue among safety-critical employees like engineers, pilots and air traffic controllers; 28% complacency; 27% airline management experience/attitude/culture; and 20% lack of effective safety oversight.

Among 10 potential drivers for safety improvement, the top mark goes to management accountability for safety, but only a little below this comes new technology for aircraft and air traffic management, and increased sharing of safety data and industry best practice.

Within freestyle comments participants chose to add, the most commonly cited subjects are the need for a pilot-training review and the safety effects of low-cost carriers' employment policies.

The full report is available from Ascend (paul.hayes@flightglobal.com).