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Alexandre de Juniac

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Safety 29 September 2017

A Decade of Progress in Making Ground Operations Safer

​The often quoted Peter Drucker saying that “you cannot manage what you cannot measure” holds much truth, particularly for one of IATA’s core activities—auditing.

We are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations or ISAGO. It followed on the success of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program. And both share the goal of improving safety.

Safety on the ground may not be top of mind when thinking of aviation. But it is vitally important. When ISAGO was introduced in 2007 the Flight Safety Foundation estimated that for every 1,000 departures the industry was experiencing one ground incident or accident and nine injuries. And our own estimates of the costs of ground damage from “tarmac rash” were in the range of $4 billion a year.

Ten years on, ISAGO is well-established as the global standard for the oversight and audit of ground service providers. Over 230 ground service providers are on the registry covering 460 stations at over 290 airports. And since 2013 we have seen ground damage incidents fall by 20%.
Even more impressively, we see a culture change taking place. Damage reporting by ISAGO registered providers is in the 70% range, while it stands at half that for non-ISAGO registered providers. That’s vital because unreported damage can lead to high costs, unexpected delays, and inconvenience to passengers.

So we can measure that ISAGO has improved the industry performance on ground safety. But there is still work to do. And to mark the successful first ten years of ISAGO, we are strengthening the program for an even more successful next decade.

What are we doing? One of the biggest changes is that we are establishing a core of dedicated professionally-trained auditors. The program is too large to rely on the voluntary efforts of airline professionals doing the auditing on top of their day job. In addition to much needed capacity building, we expect to see even greater auditing consistency and depth, resulting in more reliable audit results.

Another change is expanding the scope of ISAGO to cover catering operations and other activities that face a safety challenge. By making ISAGO even more comprehensive it should also help reduce the amount of redundant audits that are conducted by airlines.

Beyond these immediate benefits, as ISAGO grows the data that it generates will also pay big dividends in safety improvement. Our vision is to create the world’s largest collection of aviation information with the Global Aviation Data Management initiative. With data on ground damage, flight operations, unruly passengers and a plethora of other fields, we will make predictive analysis powerful and accurate.

Well done to ISAGO and all who have had a hand in making its first decade successful. With the changes that we are making, we have high expectations of our ability to manage safety with even more effective measuring!

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