Good morning. It’s a pleasure to join you today at this meeting and celebration of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). I would like to begin by thanking all of you for giving so generously of your time to support the IOSA Oversight Council and the vital work it does on behalf of improving aviation safety. I would particularly like to recognize Pierre Jeanniot for his early leadership and support for the IOSA concept. I’d also like to pay tribute to Guenther Matschnigg who played a pivotal role in the development and launch of IOSA and during its formative years.

IATA’s vision is to be the force for value creation and innovation, driving a safe, secure and profitable air transport industry that sustainably connects and enriches our world. It’s not by accident that the first word in that list is “safe.” Safety is our highest priority. I can tell you that in my time as an airline CEO, it was on my mind constantly.

Since coming to IATA two years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Safety and Flight Operations team and with the many safety stakeholders across our industry. I’ve enjoyed attending our annual Safety and Flight Operations conferences. Here, I’ve experienced first-hand the commitment and dedication of aviation safety professionals at all levels in many organizations. I’ve also gotten a 30,000 ft. view of the industry’s overall safety performance, which is impressive.

As you know, 2017 was a very good year for safety. For the second time in three years there were no fatal accidents involving jet passenger flights. Furthermore, airlines domiciled in the sub-Saharan region of Africa experienced zero fatal accidents—jet or turboprop—for a second consecutive year.

Yet there is room for improvement. We experienced six fatal turboprop and cargo accidents in 2017. Moreover, through the first half of 2018, we’ve nearly matched our total of fatal accidents for the full year of 2017, and the death toll from those accidents is significantly higher.

All of us know that fluctuations in the year-to-year performance are to be expected and that the accident rate is so low that any event will create a spike. The long-term trend shows accidents are going down. But that’s not a reason to become complacent or accepting of tragedy.

With that in mind--and before turning to our main subject -- I’d like to quickly bring you up to date on some important safety initiatives. These are:

  • The Global Aviation Data Management, or GADM, initiative
  • The Meteorological or MET Project and
  • A public information campaign about Portable Electronic Devices

Let’s begin with GADM. As the number of accidents declines, future safety advances primarily will lie in achieving a better understanding of what happens in the more than 100,000 flights operating safely every day. This will occur through analysis of flight information and other data resources. GADM is a crucial part of this effort. The program now includes information from over 470 different organizations. Over 90% of IATA members are contributing to at least one of the GADM databases. The value of GADM is not theoretical. Information provided through the Flight Data eXchange program—comprising de-identified flight recorder data—has helped us to identify problems and to develop solutions.

In a related initiative, you may have heard about our collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to establish a Safety Predictive Analytics Research Center in Singapore (SPARC). SPARC will leverage operational safety information from GADM to assess potential hazards and identify safety risks. End users across the aviation community can then work at the system level to address and implement appropriate safety measures to alleviate the risks, or even to prevent the occurrences of safety hazards.

Turning to our MET Project, we have two main objectives: to mitigate the impact of turbulence on flights; and improve weather forecasting accuracy on a regional and global basis. Turbulence is the number one cause of inflight injuries to cabin crew and passengers. And with a changing climate, some predict we will see an increase in turbulence-related events, and hence the risk of more injuries. The MET project offers us the possibility to achieve a reduction in these injuries through the creation of a real-time turbulence reporting database. This year we are focused on developing the platform in close collaboration with airlines. We expect to begin testing it in a real time environment in 2019.

Finally, last year’s ban on the carriage of large portable electronic devices in the cabin on certain routes to the US and UK resulted in many of these lithium-battery powered devices being placed in checked luggage. This has led to heightened awareness around the risks this may present. In response, last week IATA launched a public-outreach campaign to remind travelers of the importance of following airline instructions when it comes to bringing laptops, tablets, power packs and other devices containing lithium-batteries into the aircraft environment. We’d be happy to share more information on this important effort.

These initiatives and all our safety projects are aligned with global standards and best practices and conducted in partnership with industry. There is no better example of this than IOSA, which has become a truly global standard for aviation safety. Today we have 438 airlines on the IOSA registry. While IOSA is mandatory for IATA membership, fully 34% of the airlines on the IOSA registry are non-members who see the value of belonging on the registry. In the last four years, we have noted an average yearly increase of IOSA audit report requests of approximately 27%, a sign of the high demand for IOSA audits. Fourteen states have made IOSA a part of their national safety oversight programs and the EU regulations covering Member States accept IOSA as a means of safety compliance.

IOSA is a success because it delivers concrete results. In 2017, the all accident rate for airlines on the IOSA registry was nearly four times better than that of non-IOSA airlines and it was nearly three times better over the 2012-16 period.

They say success has many parents and failure is an orphan. IOSA could not have become the success it is without the broad support of industry and regulators, some of whom are in this room:

  • The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Transport Canada, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the former Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) in Europe contributed to the development of IOSA in its early days. FAA in particular supported IOSA from the beginning and is still an important stakeholder. Additionally, FAA, CASA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) are among regulators using IOSA in their safety oversight programs. We hope that Transport Canada and many more regulators will follow.
  • We must also recognize the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which supported IOSA with two Assembly resolutions in the last 15 years. These represent two important milestones in the IOSA Program.
    Our primary mission with IOSA is to improve safety, but we also aim to achieve efficiencies for operators and regulators. We remain transparent. I hope our exchanges with EASA, CASA, FAA and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) show that we are always eager to listen to your comments and recommendations. We invite you to advocate for a stronger use of IOSA to complement your oversight activities.

However successful, any audit program must evolve over time, guided by experience and technology advancement. In 2015 we moved to a continuous monitoring process across the two-year audit cycle. A focus now is the IOSA digital transformation project.

What do we mean by digital transformation? Today, each audit generates a massive amount of important data, but the process of managing that data is done manually. As a result, analysis and resulting enhancements come about through a reactive process.

With digital transformation, we aim to deliver an intelligent platform to connect airlines, audit organizations, regulators, service providers and IATA. The concept is based on three pillars:

  • A data management approach
  • A collaboration platform, and
  • Digital re-mastering of the audit program processes.

It will be supported by advanced data analytics, to ensure more scalable and effective program operations, as well as efficient and high-quality information exchange among participants.

For example, we will be able to offer a platform that enables airlines to have their IOSA dashboard and to retrieve their IOSA report in an interactive format instead of as a PDF file. Airlines could connect with each other and obtain more instant information about each other’s operational profile, fleet information, and so forth. Imagine if you also could link to the planned ICAO Foreign Operator Application Tool--this would serve airlines and reduce their burden in data entry.

IATA’s own processes will be transformed into automated, scalable solutions such as a request tracker and user-friendly reference lists that map IOSA standards to FAA, EASA and ICAO regulations.

I believe digital transformation will greatly increase the value of IOSA to everyone in this room. To ensure that we achieve this, we urge the IOSA Oversight Committee to clearly articulate the features that you as the governing body are looking for. And to regulators, I ask for your input as well.

I will end my remarks on a favorite theme. Aviation is the business of freedom. Our success makes the world a better place by connecting people and businesses, growing economies and enabling journeys of discovery and exploration. All of us in this room should be proud to bear the responsibility for ensuring that aviation remains safe and efficient, so that it can continue to be the business of freedom for decades to come.

Thank you

Now before I leave you I have a very pleasurable responsibility, which is to recognize several individuals for their special contributions to the success of IOSA.

I have already mentioned Pierre and Guenther. To their names I would like to add:

  • Mike O’Brien, former Director, Audit Programs at IATA
  • Jim Anderson, former Delta Air Lines representative, still working for IOSA
  • Bill Yantis, former United Airlines representative and still an IOSA auditor
  • Graham Marsh, former Cathay Pacific Airways representative and first Chair of the IOSA Oversight Council
  • Tommy McFall, former American Airlines representative
  • Christina Del Zingaro, former Manager, Audit Programs at IATA
  • Rick Lee, former Manager, Business and Marketing, at IATA

If I can have all of you join me up front for a special presentation

Thank you again and I wish you a successful meeting.

Note to Editors:

  • This is a redacted version of the speech