Many innovative technologies and operational concepts are not developed due to high implementation risks or too much time to reach implementation. At the same time, many operators and users are eager to make use of new developments. To ease the introduction of safety enhancement systems and operations, a innovative approach towards certification is required that:
- Is more flexible with regard to the introduction of new products and operations;
- Is more efficient, in terms of cost, time and safety, than the current certification processes;
- Considers safety impact of all aviation system elements and the entire system life-cycle in a complete integrated way.
Moving towards performance based regulation, based upon agreed safety performance in combination with a risk based approach to standardization, is expected to lead to improvements in the way that safety risks are controlled. Anticipating on future risks by using a 'proactive approach' helps to make the certification process robust to new developments. Introducing continuous safety monitoring ensures that new essential safety data is effectively used immediately after it will be available.
The main objective is to develop certification process adaptations, with supporting tools for safety based design and safety monitoring, so as to ease the introduction and certification of safety enhancements. To achieve this, six measureable and verifiable objectives are defined:
- To analyse the existing European certification and rulemaking process and propose potential adaptations to ease certification of safety enhancement systems and operations
- To develop a methodology and supporting tools for multi-stakeholder Continuous Safety Monitoring, using a baseline risk picture for all the parts of the total aviation system;
- To develop a total aviation system safety assessment method and supporting tools that can be used for safety based design of new systems, products and/or operations
- To apply proposed certification process adaptations and the design systems and tools in case studies, so as to show how they can be used by operators and manufacturers
- To validate key results: a) new certification approach, b) method and tools for Continuous Safety Monitoring, and c) all the supporting safety based design systems and tools
- To inform air transport stakeholders on the proposed certification approach through promotion workshops, supported by exercises and an e-learning web-site environment
The project is divided in the following five phases:
- The first phase will analyse existing European certification and rulemaking processes and identify potential shortcomings and bottlenecks in view of the foreseen regulatory changes and technological developments. Following this analysis, new and innovative approaches to certification will be defined and evaluated. The results of this evaluation will be used to select and further develop affordable innovative certification processes.
- The second phase will set up a baseline for the current risk level of the various parts of the total aviation system during its complete life cycle. Aviation safety data will be used to establish a baseline risk picture for the main operational issues identified in the European Aviation Safety Plan (EASP) using Safety Performance Indicators (SPIs). This risk picture will be used as baseline to set up a process for continuous safety monitoring.
- The third phase will establish a good view on potential emergent and future risks not present in today's aviation system. A total aviation system safety assessment method with supporting safety based design systems and tools will be developed. A proactive approach will be taken to ensure that potential future hazards and risks can be mitigated and safety will be maintained or even increased as compared to the baseline risk picture.
- The fourth phase will apply he newly proposed certification process adaptations, and its supporting methods and tools for continuous safety monitoring and safety based design, in a number of case studies selected with the ASCOS User Group. This is followed by quantification of the safety impact of introduction of new operations and systems in Europe.
- The fifth phase validates the scientific and technological advance that the proposed project is expected to bring:
- New affordable certification processes to make certification easier
- Innovative safety based design systems and tools and
- New methods and tools to support continuous safety monitoring.
Making the skies safer
An EU initiative is looking to make flying even safer by enhancing the certification of new safety systems and air traffic operations.
The lack of novel technologies and operations in aviation can be partly attributed to the risks involved in the implementation process and the time lag between development and implementation. New approaches are needed to upgrade and step up the certification of safety improvement operations and systems.
With the support of EU funding, the 'Aviation safety and certification of new operations and systems' (http://www.ascos-project.eu (ASCOS)) project seeks to develop a safe and cost- and time-efficient alternative to existing certification methods. This innovative approach will facilitate the launch of new products and operations, while focusing on the human aspect early on in the certification process to reduce the impact such errors may have later.
Project activities focus on improving safety throughout the field of aviation. The goal is to reduce fatalities as a result of loss of control in flight, aircraft system failure, aircraft ground handling damage and air traffic management incidents.
Researchers examined current European certification processes and identified the key obstacles and weaknesses with respect to anticipated regulatory changes and technological developments. Findings led to new certification approaches that have been evaluated, resulting in a newly proposed certification process that is now being tested in case studies.
The team established a baseline for the entire aviation system's risk level by using European aviation safety incident data from 1995 to 2011. This resulted in a new procedure and supporting tools – based on the European Commission JRC’s ECCAIRS – for continued safety performance checking.
ASCOS also presented a method to deal with risks that may arise in the aviation system but that do not currently exist. They developed risk models and incident scenarios for the whole system. These models allowed them to design tools to assess risks and the general safety effect of proposed developments.
Project activities are introducing innovative certification methods and tools to reduce incident rates and the impact of human error. ASCOS hopes to one day provide an air transport system that satisfies all the security and safety needs of passengers.