CAT has included big data as one of its editorial programs of interest and with good reasons. The government industry is collecting troves of data from operators, and increasingly training devices and other sources, and using this content to proactively improve safety and correct training deficiencies. While this journey is gaining traction in much of the civil aviation industry, huge opportunities exist to use data to improve safety and reduce risk throughout the flight mission and more fully integrate big data throughout an aircrew’s training continuum.


Data as Essential to SMS and More  

Moderator Jeff Mittelman, Founder, Mittelman Aviation Solutions, declared early on the importance of data throughout the aviation enterprise. While collection, aggregation and the dissemination of data is vital to SMS and risk management, it also supports cost savings, in terms of reducing insurance costs and other purposes, as well as enhancing maintenance operations.        

Richard Meikle, Executive Vice President, Operations and Safety, FlightSafety International, and Luke Bowman, Product Director, Flight Analytics, GE Digital Aviation Software, were the first panelists to provide more context to the session topic. Fresh off the heels of their recent partnering agreement to advance their efforts in this sector, Meikle quickly gained the session’s delegates attention by presenting a series of outcomes from his industry team’s “deep dive” into data sets from 2022-2023.

In one instance, the former career private sector aviator pointed that runway excursions and controlled flight into terrain remain the most frequent C-FOQA events. The granularity of data and lessons learned from the FSI-GE Digital collaborative efforts is attention-getting. In some cases, Meikle pointed to occurrences of no-action by aircrews or even counterintuitive, unsafe actions in response to hazardous flight conditions. Noting one set of results showed up to five-eight seconds of lag time to respond to terrain awareness and warning system alerts, he asked the delegates “Would you put your kids in the back of that aircraft [and others that indicated unprofessional or ill-trained reactions]?” Bowman reiterated this industry effort was doing nothing less “than inform future training.”

For GE Digital’s purposes, its data measurement activities are increasingly focusing on designing more effective training for flight simulator scenarios and the pilot’s training continuum. FSI has an intriguing part of the flight mission on its horizon for more focused attention using data analytics – the surprising, early indications of loss of control of flight events at high altitudes (40,000’ ft. or so). Follow CAT for follow-ups to this effort.                  



While Chad Brewer, Operational Safety Analyst, Federal Aviation Administration, said FY 2023 is on track to be one of the safest in general aviation history, he hoisted some red flags about complacency and dangers on the community’s horizon.   

To be certain, Brewer asked delegates to continue to “help drive down the safety needle further” by proactively using data. Admitting this content consists of lots of “0s and 1s,” there will be other multiple data sources feeding FAA’s insatiable desire to use data to reduce risk and increase aviation safety across the industry. 

Enter the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) program, a major effort to promote an open exchange of safety information to continuously improve aviation safety between the FAA and the aviation industry. Scott Williams, Aviation Systems Lead, MITRE, emphasized the program is voluntary and provides aggregated outcomes – not permitting FAA, as regulator, to peer into individual operators’ data sets. “And it’s free to use,” the industry manager added. said