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Zen And The Art Of Airline Safety Analysis

Swiss Agency Develops "Holistic" Airline Safety Ranking

The independent Swiss agency "Air Transport Rating Agency" says it has developed a new scientific "holistic safety rating" for commercial airlines. Although the European Union publishes a "black list" of dangerous airlines, there are real differences in terms of safety among the other airlines belonging to the "white list". The Swiss rating agency Air Transport Rating Agency has used a scientific multi-criteria analysis approach that takes into account the complexity of airlines organizations in order to obtain results which are tangible, meaningful and that can be reproduced: the ATRA holistic safety rating.

Most of safety rankings are based on one single criteria which is accident statistics. This approach is very limited because accident rates are fortunately extremely low in commercial aviation and unable to derive any valid statistical interpretations beyond simple descriptive information. Indeed, the analysis of air disasters very often shows an accumulation of technical, human, organizational and external causes. "Highly experienced pilots can handle technical and external problems very well; conversely flights without technical or external problems can go very well with very inexperienced pilots. However, the combination of technical or external problems and inexperienced pilots can be disastrous."explains Jean-Pierre Otelli, aviation safety expert, author of reference books in Air disasters and Pilot errors.

Unfortunately, the agency says, conjunction of very rare factors can occurred with any carriers and one single accident significantly impact company reputations. The innovative approach of the ATRA holistic safety rating takes into account airlines organizational parameters which contribute to general safety, without being necessarily directly attributed to safety management. Using publicly available data sources, Air Transport Rating Agency has selected 15 criteria directly or indirectly contributing to flight safety. Quantitative parameters (such as the average age of the fleet) or qualitative parameters (such as the homogeneity of the fleet) were subjected to a multi-criteria mathematical analysis in order to generate a synthetic indicator and to present a meaningful holistic safety rating.

Like any unsolicited rating agencies, full detailed rating and competitive data report are available for professionals, such as airlines, insurance companies, financial analysts, and others, from Air Transport Rating Agency. Technical report includes Airlines cluster analyses, correlations between selected parameters, multi-criteria rating calculations, etc. Special requests for ad hoc analyses are also possible such as advanced multi-criteria analyses of internal databases, sub-ratings by type of airlines, market or geographical area, experts' reports, etc.

From a dataset of the 100 most important airlines, 44 met the inclusion criteria for the multi-criteria analysis.

The top ten airlines 2011 (2009 data) from the holistic safety profiles are (by alphabetic order): Air France-KLM, AMR Corporation (American Airlines and American Eagles), British Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

FMI: www.ATRA.aero

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