The new century started with a stark challenge for the aviation industry. Safety had reached unprecedented levels but, with strong industry growth, the accident rate needed to be drastically cut. The aim was to halve the accident rate by 2004 compared with 1995
Audits were identified as a means of progression, a trend that has continued unabated to the current day.
In 2000, Operational Quality Standards were in the driving seat. The program was being applied to new IATA members, with the hope that eventually the industry would move into harmonized standards.
Today, the concept has reached its zenith with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). All IATA members are now on the IOSA registry, and the program has even been endorsed by several countries.
The audit strategy is mirrored by all major aviation agencies including the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This has allowed the next big step in safety to begin.
Collecting the data supplied by audits is just one part of the safety picture. Equally essential is sharing that data with all relevant parties.
It is this second element that will drive safety improvements in the decade to come.
IATA has signed a Declaration of Intent to share audit data with the FAA, ICAO and the European Union. The association has also introduced its own Global Safety Information Center (GSIC), which combines safety data from several sources without compromising commercial privacy.
Information in the GSIC will be made available to all airlines so that best practice in safety can be disseminated industry wide.