Airways - Making your world possible

Collaboration key for safety

LucyMitchell web

Eleven years as an air traffic controller with the last two spent concurrently in a safety improvement role has given me a unique perspective on air traffic management safety. Recently I was appointed Vice Chair of the CANSO APAC (Asia Pacific) Safety Workgroup and I'm looking forward to being able to use these insights to help to guide the development of safety strategy in the Asia Pacific region.

Over the last two years, I’ve also been working towards a Master of Science degree in ergonomics and human factors which has expanded my knowledge base and primed me to consider safety from a systems perspective. It has become apparent to me that collaboration, both internally and externally, is vital for any improvement initiative. The value of having a multidisciplinary team cannot be underestimated with each person bringing skills, experiences and perspectives to the table.  

I took on the safety improvement role at Airways in early 2014 and attended my first CASNO APAC Safety Workgroup meeting in Melbourne shortly afterwards. It was immediately clear to me how diverse the region is, both culturally and in terms of the maturity of safety management systems and safety improvement initiatives developed by different air navigation service providers (ANSPs). In this context, it is particularly important that we work together to make headway.

The workgroup will meet in Queenstown next week to discuss how it will implement the regional safety strategy. There are a couple of recent Airways’ initiatives I’ll be glad to share.

One of our big successes has been our professional phraseology campaign launched last year. The campaign was aimed at improving the standard of radio communications across the aviation industry. It involved gathering feedback from air traffic services (ATS) staff and pilots from Airways’ airline, military, and flight training customers about what they hear on the radio.

The response we’ve received so far shows the ATS community is more carefully considering what they are saying and hearing on the radio. Our next steps involve working as an industry with the regulator to review the outcomes and assess further opportunities for improvement.

Safety in collaboration was also the theme of our recent Safety Summit. Over two days, a variety of internal and external presentations and workshops provided an excellent opportunity for staff to gain insights into each other’s working environments, an appreciation of some of the challenges that present themselves and the chance to consider how collaboration can assist in devising solutions.

Collaboration has become a cornerstone concept for enhancing safety at Airways and we have a lot of learnings to share with the wider industry. I’m excited and feel very privileged to be able to represent Airways as the Vice Chair of the workgroup. I look forward to potential involvement with CANSO globally in the future.