The aviation industry is subject to close scrutiny in today’s security-driven society, quite rightly, with billions of flight passengers passing through the doors of airports of all sizes around the world every year, and with an increasing threat of physical and cyber-attack.
One approach to safety in the industry involves airport personnel at every level, from the top down, and the ground up, working together to take responsibility for all areas of security. To do this, airport management is urged to keep a simplified, yet effective regime in place that becomes second-nature to all personnel in a supported environment that reiterates the importance of maintaining and recording security checks as a routine, day-to-day occurrence.
Only when a shared responsibility is taken by all staff can safety measures truly be recognised as an intrinsic part of any airport operations – 24/7/365.
Mandatory ICAO compliance – the ICAO Annex 19 Safety Definition
The driving force behind safety in terms of mandatory compliance is the Strategic Objective – Annex 19 Safety Definition, set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, who hold the safety of the aviation industry at its core.
Annex 19 Safety Definition sets a standard but is among many safety standards set and implemented to strengthen and solidify the security in member airports around the world. By standardising and regulating security and safety, a clear path is made for the simplification of processes within airport environments.
Personnel development and understanding of safety responsibilities
With passenger numbers expected to more than double before 2030, and until then increase consistently year-on-year, some industry professionals believe that the development and training of personnel is a critical part of ongoing operational productivity.
Airports are implementing next-generation systems and processes to reinforce infrastructure to cope with rising passenger demand and increasing safety mandates. While this is future-proofing the flight operations environment, personnel training and safety awareness are becoming more important to back this up.
When personnel truly understand their safety responsibilities and are well-trained and practised in safety and security procedures, the results speak for themselves in terms of confidence and the ability to be both proactive and seamlessly reactive if and when the need arises. Not only this, but when safety training and awareness are day-to-day ongoing responsibilities, there is a normality brought to the fore concerning security and it is at that point that many industry professionals believe there will be the best chance of achieving the accepted level of safety.
If personnel do not fully grasp or recognise the importance of ongoing safety monitoring, then some industry experts say that this could lead to complacency. This leads many to insist that safety monitoring measures must be kept straightforward, and standardised. Although much about safety is deemed to be common sense, there are some in the industry that want to reinforce the ‘we’re in this together’ approach – to bring ‘meaning and purpose’ to what airport management are expecting of their staff.
This can also go beyond directly-employed personnel. When third-party staff are involved too, then this can reinforce the ‘team spirit’.
Getting personnel involved in the responsibilities of safety and security
The idea behind ingraining safety aspects into the airport environment is a sensible one, according to most industry professionals. Involving personnel in what appears to be a mundane, routine safety inspection task, which might be a simple, dull visual glancing inspection for example, and giving that member of the team a sense of the importance of their role can lead to an empowerment of that staff member. This can ensure, from a management perspective, that these vital, yet small or mundane inspections, contribute to maintaining standards. It has been proven that the adoption of reactive, proactive or predictive practices strengthen standards and reduce the chance of a safety breach or incident occurring.
Once personnel have taken a shared responsibility, then teams are much more likely to discuss potential issues. They must be given a regular platform to do so. It has been previously suggested that the creation of safety or security committees within a management infrastructure, in addition to the introduction of safety teams to work closely with the said committee, can prove to be an excellent way of liaison. Regular meetings and safety presentations can reinforce this perfectly.
There will be opportunities within the personnel structure to give some variety to aspects of safety and security that can elevate a sense of responsibility. This may be the creation of regular shift days where personnel can move away from their routine tasks and take part in a safety event or initiative.
When personnel feel empowered or involved, there is a sense of responsibility that comes naturally to the surface. Only when the entire airport team from the top to the ground are taking a shared approach can the acceptable level of safety truly be achieved in the aviation industry.