STEADES will enable the industry to identify areas of concern but must win the support of the the world's airlines

A newly launched global safety information system may soon enable airlines to exchange safety and security data.

The International Air Transport Association's Safety Trend Evaluation Analysis and Data Exchange System (STEADES) is based on a secure network of individual airline desktop computer-operated safety-data analysis systems, and is designed to spot trends or weaknesses early on.

IATA director general Pierre Jeanniot says the system is "a great step in the constant quest to achieve safety improvement in the airline community. It is founded on the well-proven British Airways BASIS software, and will enable airlines to share safety and security lessons from incident data."

The original BASIS software is to be tailored to the task, with incident descriptors and other items modified to make it more generally applicable.

The USA has, for years, attempted to take the lead with its proposed Global Aviation Information Network (GAIN), but airlines shied away from any US-based system as the Freedom of Information Act threatened confidentiality, and with it airline motivation to assemble incident data which might then be used against them. Being based in Geneva, Switzerland, IATA has a higher chance of persuading the airlines that their data is secure, and IATA's assistant director of safety and security David Mawdsley says the GAIN working group has done a good job in preparing the ground for accepting STEADES.

A steering group of nine airlines has already been participating in STEADES trials, and this will be expanded to a core of about 15to help with the data analysis development, says Mawdsley.Participating at present are Air Canada, BA, British Regional Airlines (part of CitiExpress), Cathay Pacific, Emirates, KLM, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic. STEADES has also taken over, from BA, the task of running the present BASIS users' safety information exchange. About 40 BASIS participants are being given the choice of moving over to the IATA run system or dropping out completely.

From 1 January the STEADES participators will start using the new format and descriptors, says Mawdsley. Smaller airlines will be attracted into the system by being offered a simpler "BASIS Lite" system. STEADES is also designed to be easy for users of the operational quality auditing programme AQD, which Qantas, Cathay, Singapore Airlines and Delta Air Lines use.

Source: Flight International