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Risk Management with Line Operation Safety Audits

The Line Operation Safety Audit or LOSA is a tool in the aviation industry that helps identify flight hazards. It uses the data collected by line operators to assess and mitigate risks before, during, and after a flight.

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What is a Line Operation Safety Audit?


A Line Oparation Safety Audit or LOSA is an essential method to create countermeasures to operational errors in aviation. It includes a structured program of observation of activities on the front line based on the threat and error management concept. Its goal is to identify threats in operational safety and mitigate the risks where these threats originate in order to execute preventive actions to lessen the human error aspect of the residual risk.


The Line Operational Safety Audit employs trained observers to gather data about pilot behavior and its situational context during flights. The monitoring process enables the “observers” to gather data on how a pilot responds and manages threats, errors, and other undesirable situations. Some of the things that are audited and recorded during LOSA include:


  • Potential safety threats
  • How threats are addressed
  • Errors generated by the threats
  • How the crew manage the errors
  • Behaviors that are commonly associated with accidents

The Line Orientated Safety Audit is related to the Crew Resource Management (CRM) training since collected data that shows excellent pilot performance is used to provide models for use in training.



In this article you will learn:


1. What the LOSA Operating Characteristics Are


2. About the Common Threats and Errors in Aviation


3. How a Safety Audit App Can Support your LOSA


Airplane in Flight

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LOSA Operating Characteristics


Airlines have greatly benefited from preventive health checks conducted by LOSA and the following characteristics have contributed to an effective and successful line-orientated operation safety audit:


1. Jump Seat Observations


Since the primary objective of a line operation safety audit is to focus on the safety strengths and weaknesses in normal flight operations, observations must be performed only during regular flights. Training flights, initial operating experience, and line checks should not be included because they have evaluative elements. Furthermore, it must be clear to the pilots that it is a system evaluation rather than an individual evaluation.


2. Pilot’s Trust


The pilot’s trust in the safety audit is essential to its success. Many times, pilots think that their individual performance is being audited; thus, they fake a good performance. But such actions do not yield correct data; therefore, it is imperative that the pilots clearly understand the aim of the performed inspection.


3. Anonymous Data Collection


This works in conjunction with the point above. To foster trust, data collection is done anonymously and with the utmost confidentiality. In other words, observers do not record the name, flight number, date, and other information that might identify the flight and crew.


4. Crew Participation


The flight crew has a right to refuse a LOSA observation. Although there are a few denials since a high number of refusals indicate low pilot trust and warrant an immediate suspension of the project.


The best way to gain pilot trust and to lessen denials is to create awareness of what LOSA is all about. It should be promoted in media clippings, company memos, and articles in various publications. The information should not only come from the airline but from pilot associations as well.


5. Joint Management Sponsorship


To further strengthen the pilot’s trust, there should be a formal agreement between the pilot associations and the airline management. It should be indicated in the agreement that all collected data is anonymous and confidential, and will not be used to discipline pilots.


6. Trusted and Trained Observers


Trained observers should be non-invasive and non-threatening. However, they should also know when to speak up if they notice safety concerns.


Selected observers could be instructors, airmen, or safety experts. However, the majority are line pilots that also work within the airline. This selection lessens the suspicion of pilots.


7. Safety-Targeted Collection Form


The existing collection tool for a line operation safety audit is the LOSA observation form based on the Threat and Error Management Model. Although using it is not compulsory, the tool used must contain a data framework designed for collecting systemic factors that influence flight crew performance.



Pilots in Cockpit

Common Flight Threats and Errors


A Line-Orientated Safety Audit is necessary to identify threats, mitigate errors, and manage them appropriately. A threat, within the bounds of aviation, means outside factors that affect the flight crew.


Threats are categorized into environmental and airline threats. Environmental threats are outside the airline’s direct control. Some examples include adverse weather, traffic, radio congestion, poor signage, faint markings, among others. Meanwhile, airline threats, come from flight operations, such as ground problems and aircraft malfunction.


Aside from threats, flight safety can also be affected by errors. These are divided into three types — communication, aircraft handling, and procedural errors.

  1. Communication errors occur when pilots have a miscommunication between them or other employees like flight attendants, ground personnel, and ATC controllers. A few examples include misinterpretation of instructions or wrong clearance.
  2. Aircraft handling errors on the other hand are associated with the configuration, speed, and direction of the aircraft. They might also include automatic errors, such as hand-flying errors or dialing an incorrect altitude. Here are a few more examples:
    • Flight control — incorrect speed brakes, power settings, or flaps
    • Manual flying — runway failure to hold short or taxi over the speed limit
    • Automation — autothrottle settings, speed, or altitude are incorrect
    • System — altimeter, radio frequency settings, or fuel switch are incorrect
  3. Procedural errors happen when the flight crew deviates from the flight manual requirements or the standard operating procedures (SOP) of the airline. Procedural errors include:
    • SOP cross-check — failure to cross-check automation input intentionally or unintentionally
    • Documentation — wrong fuel information or items on paperwork are misinterpreted
    • Briefings — the crew missed items in the brief, departure or arrival has been omitted

Any mismanaged threats and errors will greatly affect the safety of a flight, as do errors and threats that haven’t been detected yet. It is therefore vital to hone pilot trust and perform accurate and detailed LOSAs in order to keep and make aviation safer.



Perform Line Operation Safety Audits With a Mobile App


With Lumiform’s audit app you can easily perform a multitude of safety and quality inspections on the go from your smartphone or tablet - online or offline. Create checklists for your Line Operation Safety Audit observers to easily collect data in the field and reduce errors and threats in aviation.





Airplane Landing


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