March 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 10 
Commercial Airplanes

What's better than superlative?

Aviation safety team on quest for perfection


What's better than superlative?Media reports earlier this year celebrated statistics compiled by the airline industry that showed traveling in a commercial jet airplane is safer than ever. So with a safety rate far better than any other mode of transportation in the world, why are people within Steve Atkins' organization examining the data and asking, "Is this good enough?"

"Our emphasis is to continuously work for a safe and efficient global air transportation system," said Atkins, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of Product Integrity and Technical Excellence. "We can settle for no less."

Atkins' organization is responsible for integrating processes within Commercial Airplanes that allow the company to meet regulatory requirements and to reinforce the company's commitment to safety throughout the life cycle of Boeing airplanes.

One of the organization's key responsibilities is to help lead the Aviation Safety Council in Commercial Airplanes. With experts from a variety of technical disciplines, the council formally oversees a unified safety plan rooted in the company's long history of continuously improving the design, assembly, operation and maintenance of Boeing airplanes.

"The council's goal is to have one safety plan throughout Commercial Airplanes, which in turn will enhance the global air transportation system." Atkins said.

As an example, he cited a recently released Revised Upset Recovery Training Aid for pilots, which had not been included in standard Boeing in-house flight training. With guidance from the BCA Aviation Safety Council, Atkins said the organization was able to take to the Federal Aviation Administration a plan for a revised training footprint. The plan made room for the industry-advocated upset recovery training and reduced less-relevant material.

Airworthiness and compliance require cooperation throughout the industry, not just at home. Atkins is a sponsor of the FAA/BCA Partnership for Safety Plan. Through this plan, Boeing and the FAA work together to improve certification and processes, focusing on both safety and efficiency. Boeing and the FAA work to harmonize safety decision making, including understanding and recognizing each other's safety analysis tools and decision-making guidelines.

Continued Operational Safety Program is another example of a joint endeavor between the manufacturer and regulator, this one aimed at monitoring and addressing potential in-service safety events and issues reported throughout the air transport industry.

Looking globally, the Commercial Aviation Safety Team brings together representatives from airlines, manufacturers, labor and government across the entire aviation community to target and implement actions collectively that can lower the accident rate.

In 1998 CAST established an ambitious goal to reduce the commercial aviation accident rate in the United States by 80 percent by 2007. Members of the team analyze accident causes, identify and implement enhancements that could prevent them, and measure the results.

"With ongoing industry improvements in other areas, we'll achieve the CAST goal," Atkins said. Now, "CAST is looking to make steady progress throughout the world by sharing what has worked in the United States and helping other regions understand safety risks and prioritizing safety enhancements.

With the aviation community continuously working together for a solid safety foundation—by using best processes, procedures and enhancements to build a safe global system—what's next?

"We must continue to understand and address expected changes to the aviation system that may bring new safety risks,"Atkins responded. "Our focus on historical, emergent and future risks will allow us to maintain Boeing leadership in aviation safety."



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