A leading short-haul airline operating in more than 30 countries. It employs over 3,000 pilots and 10,000 cabin crew, and flies more than 80 million passengers a year.
The airline wanted to test the thesis that safety is closely connected with operational performance. The better the performance in terms of scheduling and timing, the less likely it is that there will be safety problems and at worst, of course, a crash. Faculty was asked to demonstrate this link quantitatively.
Our analysis showed a strong correlation between on-time performance and safety: a flight departing 10 minutes early experienced half the safety events of a flight departing 10 minutes late, and four times fewer than a flight departing 40 minutes late. By building in risk scores, we found that flights that are late have both more events and more serious events. The figures held through confounding long-term trends.
We also discovered that different airports demonstrated different numbers and types of safety events. Considering the frequency of events per hundred flights at each airport, we were able to identify the airports that perform best in each safety category. The implication is that airports around the world could adopt best practice from the best-performing airports to reduce the risk of safety-related incidents. We found that if the performance of all the airports were to approach the standards of the safest airports one in six safety events could be prevented.
We were also able to assess performance in specific types of safety event at each airport in order to identify the types of event where the greatest safety improvements could be made. Raising the safety performance of the airline’s network to the level of those airports currently best at passenger-related events, which account for the majority of events, would prevent one in three passenger-related safety events.
Our work was able to identify the connection between on-time performance and safety, and the airports with developed best practices for specific safety categories. Sharing these practices throughout the network will improve both safety and punctuation.