Data Sharing is Like Playing Tennis
Dave Jesse on February 27, 2013

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting to the European Business Aviation Safety Conference (EBASCON) in Munich. Sadly there was no time to visit the city centre, but it was a joy to meet old friends in the industry – including Big Bob who flew in from Texas – and make new acquaintances.

The paper I gave concentrated on the benefits of sharing safety data and the techniques FDS have used since 2006 when we first started showing our customers data from their competitors. (I think that’s the wrong word, because while operators compete on a commercial level they always cooperate on a safety level, from my experience, but I digress).

The paper is available to download at the end of this blog, but as is always the case with my presentations a lot is included in the talk which is ad lib, so here is an explanation of one of the key slides.

Play to the same rules

If you play tennis and your opponent plays baseball, when he “hits it out of the park” you have not both won! You do need to be using the same basis of measurement to get a useful answer when sharing data.

Half the players lose

Many operators who have been working in aviation safety for many years will have told themselves that their efforts have been successful. Therefore they go into data sharing believing that it will prove how good they are. It often comes as a shock that their safety standards are worse than their competitors. Be prepared to come second.

Novices lose badly

Most operators’ crews have developed a style of operation through flying together as a group. They will share some bad habits, and it is common for some events to have a rate 10, 20 or even 50 times greater than the pool of shared data. The beauty of this is that sharing acts as a laser pointing directly to the areas where improvements can be made.

Know your opponent

You should have an understanding of the type of operator you are being compared against, for example are they cargo operators, or corporate? Where do they operate? The different regions of the world have different standards of safety – and it’s not a pattern that you would expect. Perhaps that’s a topic for another blog…

Find your ranking

Data sharing does not give you an exact point on a ladder, but it does allow you to gauge where you are with respect to your peers.

Competition improves your game

Like all the best sports, competition gives you an incentive to improve and aviation safety is no exception. Only by striving to do better can we save the next accident.

EBASCON - Flight Data Services

I hope you get time to look through the slides – if there are any you don’t understand, feel free to contact me for an explanation.