CASR Areas of Research

The Center is conducting federally funded research on a variety of safety related issues that impact aviation and other high-consequence industries.

1.  Safety Management Systems:  Business Benefits, Implementation & Development Strategies

The Center for Aviation Safety Research has been working with a wide variety of industry partners such as airlines, repair stations, regulators and manufacturers to develop a safety investment analysis model.  Through this model, our industry partners will be able to compute their return on investment of safety programs before they implement them.  We strive to show these industry leaders that investing in safety is not only the ethically and morally sound choice, but also a financially secure decision.

In order to determine the return on investment, we must first analyze the total cost of incidents and accidents and determine the cost of implementation of safety programs to prevent such incidents and accidents.  From that, we can compute the total costs avoided, and that value can then be utilized as internal investment into further safety initiatives.

Presently, we are studying multiple types of interventions and their cumulative ROIs.  We are also making regular presentations to the FAA and our industry partners on the progress of our research.  For more information, or if you are interested in participating as an industry partner, please contact Damon Lercel, Program Director with the Center of Aviation Safety Research at dlercel@slu.edu or 314-977-8527.

Related Papers

2.  Safety Culture

In order to accurately assess safety culture, we must recognize that safety culture at an organization is a dynamically balanced state resulting from the existing alignment of values, strategies, attitudes and behaviors.  A multi-level safety culture pyramid model is used to conduct comprehensive studies of safety culture within a variety of organizations.  At the bottom of the pyramid sits safety values, this block is made up of underlying values and unquestioned assumptions.  Above that is safety strategies, which includes organizational mission and structure, safety strategies, history and legends and heroes.  Next is safety climate, which is made up of the attitudes and opinions of all employees.  Topping off the pyramid is safety behaviors and performance, which encompasses all of the behaviors and actions of the employees.

We use qualitative and quantitative techniques, as well as quazi-experimental methods, to study the safety culture of an organization.  Contact Terry Kelly at  kellytk@slu.edufor more information.

Related Papers

3.  Maintenance Aviation Safety Action Programs

The objective of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) is to encourage air carrier and repair station employees to voluntarily report errors that may be critical to identifying potential precursors to accidents. Under an ASAP, safety issues are resolved through corrective action rather than through punishment or discipline. The ASAP provides for the collection, analysis, and retention of obtained safety data. 

With the help of our industry partners, we are able to examine how aviation organizations disseminate and verify data obtained from ASAP reports and investigate and identify the most effective mechanisms for communicating lessons learned back to the work groups.  In addition to improving safety in aviation, we hope to be able to share some of the lessons learned from aviation maintenance voluntary reporting systems to organizations in other high consequence industries such as medical, nuclear, petro and chemical.  Contact Terry Kelly at kellytk@slu.edu for more information.

See the below references for more information about our current work:

Maintenance ASAP Presentation

4.  Next-Gen Safety Assessment and Lab

This research focuses on Human to Human and Human to Machine interaction by utlizing a Next-Gen ATC Research Lab.  This also included Human Reliability and Risk Assessment Studies.

5.  Incident Investigation

On a normal flight, threats, errors and undesired aircraft states may occur that are normally handled  correctly by the flight crew, and thus not documented using normal incident reporting systems such as ASRS or ASAP.  Line Operation Safety Audit (LOSA) seeks to quantify and identify these unreported threats, errors and undesired aircraft states that occur on a normal flight.  This data are used to implement new procedures and/or training to prevent and/or mitigate the occurrence of threats, errors, and undesired aircraft states and thus reduce the probability of an accident/incident occurring. 

CASR is currently implementing LOSA and Threat Error Management (TEM) models into the Parks College flight training program to collect and analyze flight data from general aviation aircraft using flight data recorders, and cockpit image and voice recorders.  Contact Richard Steckel at rsteckel@slu.edu for more information.

See the below references for more information about our current work:

LOSA Project Presentation

6.  Multi Risk Analysis 

Multi-Risk Analysis involves assessing Next-generation Airspace Safety Factors, predictive modeling of coupled and decoupled systems.  This research is attempting to bridge the inter-related topics of managing the impacts of an organization’s safety to the business case for the same organization.  Significant challenges lay in identifying and then addressing multiple competing safety risks within the business case resources.  Applying Heinrich’s 1931 causal safety ratios to aviation is being explored as a basis for this analysis with the current focus on reliably identifying and then documenting the contributing unreported hazards that theoretically precede and accident.  FAA Part 121Air Carrier flight delay data is also being explored as a possible surrogate to correlate accidents with operations.  Contact Matt Vance at svance1@slu.edu for more information.

7.  Next-Gen Maintenance and Technlogy

Next generation maintenance and technology involves assessing skills and knowledge requirements of Next-Gen Maintenance, developing academic curriculum, and enhancing American education aviation leadership.  In the automated NextGen air traffic future, all assets (airborne vehicles, either manned or unmanned) will need to participate in the system, meaning they must continuously communicate their present position, intended route and verification of their on-board systems status, with special attention to their ability to fully comply with the vehicular separation standards of the system. The skill set of the humans in this future aviation world will need to change just as dramatically as the basic operations change from today’s hands-on to tomorrow’s hands-off.  The near-term view for this research is an aviation world populated equally with manned and unmanned vehicles.  The long-term view for this research is coupling Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and the systems that support them to the potential human skill needs to operate and maintain an automated aviation system.  Contact Matt Vance at svance1@slu.edu for more information.

8.  Maintenance and Ramp Line Operation Safety Audit

There is a need to study the maintenance process from a neutral third-party perspective during line operations in both normal and eventful situations.  Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA) is intended to complement other safety-data sources such as NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) and the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) by tapping different feedback mechanisms. These data are also critical to sustaining a functional Safety Management System (SMS).

The results of this project will build upon the existing knowledge regarding safety across high-consequence industries. Particularly, the impact of observation of normal behaviors in the aircraft maintenance industry will help qualify and quantify the efforts made by skilled front line professionals like aircraft mechanics and ramp agents to prevent incidents and accidents. The results of the understanding of the benefits and limitations of a threat and error recognition model will be applicable in other high-consequence industries like chemical safety and patient safety.

The overall objective of this study is to capitalize on the successes of flight deck LOSA and extend it to aviation maintenance and ramp operations by reshaping LOSA program to match the requirements of maintenance and ramp environments.  For more information, please contact Damon Lercel, Program Director with the Center of Aviation Safety Research at dlercel@slu.edu or 314-977-8527.

See the below references for more information about our current work:

LOSA Project Description

LOSA Year 1 Report Abstract

LOSA Maintenance Training