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Safety First

Safety First

Millions of people board Airbus airplanes and helicopters each year, from airline passengers to military pilots and troops, and each puts their trust in the Airbus brand to deliver them safely to destinations around the world. Airbus knows this trust doesn’t come lightly; it was earned – and continues to be earned – on the strength of decades of experience, thousands of aircraft in operation and millions of flight-hours.

The number one priority at Airbus is the continued safe transport of everyone, and everything, that flies aboard an Airbus product – from passengers, cargo, and humanitarian relief supplies on aircraft and rotorcraft, to satellite and spacecraft that keep the world connected and explore the mysteries of deep space.

Airbus’ dedication to safety is reflected across the company. From design, engineering and production to maintenance, training and support, Airbus is committed to exceeding industry safety standards and supporting the safe operation of all its aircraft and those that fly aboard them.

While the foundations of safety are built on regulatory compliance, Airbus goes beyond airworthiness requirements to also focus on safety enhancement activities in products, services, customer operation, and with international stakeholders, whilst also adapting the organisation to meet evolving conditions.

Regulatory compliance

Product certifications are provided by the competent aviation authorities including the primary civil aviation authorities, and specific military authorities. Appropriate approvals are granted by these authorities to the relevant parts of Airbus’ organisation at commercial aircraft level and within each division, according to their function.

The certified organisations of Airbus are audited by the aviation authorities to ensure the surveillance of the full compliance of Airbus to regulatory requirements. Additional audits are also conducted by third parties as part the quality certifications appropriate to each of the company’s divisions.

Going beyond compliance to safety

Airbus Divisions include a dedicated product/aviation safety function that provides a voice for safety independent of other corporate priorities and empowered to take action across each business to ensure the highest levels of safety.

The company’s policies identify axes of safety enhancement activity – including the safety of Airbus products, the flight operations of Airbus products, and the environment in which these products are operated.

Enhancement activities are tailored to take into account differences in the customer base and the operating environment of Airbus commercial aircraft, as well as those from the company’s other divisions.

Product/aviation safety policies within the divisions follow common themes in values:

  • Putting safety first with a commitment to recognise that lives depend on safety,
  • Being engaged with safety and aware of the impact the company’s actions have on it, and
  • Ensuring that potential safety topics are reported, and applicable lessons learnt are shared with stakeholders.

Additionally, the company deploys a Safety Management System (SMS) in each division to ensure definition and clarity of safety policy and objectives, manage safety risks, assure effectiveness of implemented risk control strategies and promote safety culture among the workforce.

For enhancing safety by managing and reducing safety risks, a number of company-wide organisational initiatives ensure that Airbus divisions work together to harmonise the company’s overall approach to aviation safety. 

Safety by commitment, awareness and sharing

Commitment to safety starts at the top management levels of the company and is cascaded to the lower levels. Any safety issue or enhancement that can bring a positive impact on safety is discussed at the appropriate level in order to ensure that proper actions are taken to manage each safety topic.

Each employee is aware of the potential impact on product safety that his/her actions and omissions might have and knows how their personal actions can improve safety. 

Airbus employees do the utmost to ensure potential safety topics are reported and lessons learned are shared with relevant stakeholders, in accordance with their duties and within appropriate frameworks. Employees are encouraged to voluntarily report every potential safety event or hazard which might impact safety in the SMS frame.

Commercial aircraft safety

Airbus commercial aircraft supports a fleet of over 10,000 aircraft operated by approximately 450 customers. One pillar of Airbus’ safety enhancement activity is the safety process, which has been operational for 15 years. It enables Airbus to manage all potential identified safety risks and is now reinforced to include use of digitalisation technologies, enabling a “big-data” approach to monitoring and analysis of in-service data and events.

Other equally important safety enhancement activities include:

  • Projects for improvement of aircraft resilience against abnormal conditions, and reinforcement of pilot training means to enhance handling of stress in unexpected situations,
  • Tailored support programmes with operators and/or their National Aviation Authority, and string involvement in industry regional safety initiatives such as ICAO COSCAP,
  • Promotion of best practice sharing amongst airline operators, including through an annual Flight Safety Conference since 1994 and the publishing of a safety magazine since 1995,
  • Alignment of company safety plans with EASA’s European Plan for Aviation Safety,
  • Engagement with the supply chain to reinforce risk identification and reporting.

Safety by commitment

No aircraft accident is ever acceptable – which is why the top Airbus priority is to continually improve safety. Its commitment to safety starts at the top, is reflected in the structure of its organisation and is most deeply embodied in the mindset employees bring to daily work. 

All safety topics are discussed at their appropriate level, which includes Airbus’ senior executives. By acting together, the company ensures that the full power of coordinated cross-company action can be brought to bear on any issue where safety can be further enhanced. 

Airbus employees undergo training to recognise that the lives of passengers and airline personnel can depend on their personal commitment to safety and to ensure that they are aware of how their personal actions can impact and improve safety. 

A key aspect of Airbus’ philosophy on safety is to recognise that aircraft operate safely not only when they are safely designed, tested and built, but also when they are safely maintained and flown by trained operators, as well as when the air transport system is safely organised.

Airbus works to ensure safety in:

  •   The design of aircraft and the quality of manufacturing and support,
  •   The materials/manuals supplied to customers to operate and maintain the

  aircraft,

  •   The training provided to flight, cabin and maintenance crews,
  •   The worldwide services delivered in support of the aircraft’ operation.

Beyond this, Airbus is in constant contact with other aircraft manufacturers, airlines and air safety organisations around the world to find new ways of improving safety standards. The company believes that industry-wide cooperation is crucial to making further safety enhancements.

Safety with technology

How technology has contributed to aviation safety (video):

The history of aviation safety: Putting passengers’ safety first

 

Safety through sharing

Safety is not a matter of competition in the aviation industry. The sharing of safety information is essential to continue improving safety and preventing accidents.

Airbus has several safety information sharing initiatives, including:

  • Project "Destination 10X Together": a platform where Airbus and operators can collaborate to propose pragmatic solutions to key identified safety issues
  • Safety First magazine that shares lessons learned with operators and the wider aviation community as well as highlights new safety enhancements that Airbus or others have made available
  • "Statistical Analysis of Commercial Aviation Accidents": focusing on all Western-built aircraft since the beginning of the commercial jet age, this statistical analysis of the air transport sector examines the evolution of hull-loss and fatal accident rates during revenue flights from 1958. The analysis clearly demonstrates the industry’s huge improvements in safety over the past decades. It also underlines the significant contribution that technology has made in ensuring that taking a flight in a commercial aircraft is an inherently low-risk activity.

A statistical Analysis of Commercial Aviation Accidents 1958-2017

Helicopter safety

Airbus’ helicopter division strives every day to ensure safety, working with operators, suppliers, industry organisations and others who share the same commitment. 

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