Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap: Probing Safety
Doug Nancarrow

IN A NEW e-book Allister Polkinghorne explores the reality of the industry’s safety culture. In the book, Mind the Gap, Polkinghorne says that aviation auditors have become increasingly concerned about ‘mud-guard’ aviation companies. By ‘mudguard’ we mean the ones that are shiny on top and rotten underneath. The systematisation approach taken by the aviation regulator for the last 20 years and the commercialization of safety auditing has been partially responsible for the changes.

Competition, marketing avenues and multimedia have also contributed to a requirement to appear highly credible to an art form level in what is a relatively simple business of flying aircraft. Aviation has become incredibly safe. Aviation accidents have always been highly emotional and news-worthy. When a ship sinks, there are rarely good photo opportunities and the carnage is seldom visible. The opposite is the case with an aircraft accident.

Usually there is wreckage strewn across a wide area, bodies are mangled and mutilated and peoples’ personal belongings are scattered like there has been some evil force preying on the lives of the victims. An aircraft accident scene is a media dream and gets covered accordingly. The work health and safety (WHS] industry has entrenched into law, requirements to provide a safe workplace. Where people are flying in their day-to- day work on other than regular public transport operations with reputable airlines, there is a perceived and often real aviation safety risk.

WHS regulation requires that the level of safety risk be acceptable. The definition of what constitutes, ‘acceptable’ remains difficult for many organizations. There are widely varying levels of safety and it depends very much on location, terrain, altitude, temperature, pilots, operating guidelines and the equipment available. With these issues in mind, the aviation industry needs some method to evaluate that there is an acceptable level of safety; where there is not a high frequency of risk to life which would make an operation untenable.

The accepted level of safety is where the level of risk is as low as reasonably practicable and this is abbreviated to ALARP. The quest for an acceptable level of safety and the method to find that acceptable level of safety is the crux of this booklet.

Chapters in Mind the Gap are:

  • The difference between what aviation companies say they do and what they actually do
  • There is an aviation regulator, therefore the industry is safe
  • Box ticking to demonstrate the ‘duty of care’
  • Culture, decisions and safe operating frameworks
  • Bench marking aviation companies
  • Is your safety proactive or reactive?
  • How do we make our aviation solution the best possible outcome?

In it Polkinghorne explores some of the vagaries of the aviation market and propose solutions to inform the reader on how to tackle what is a complex and often daunting problem of procurement and maintenance of an aviation supply solution.

Contact Allister Polkinghorne on allister@argusconsulting.com.au