Throughout the organisation – from the boardroom to our crew, engineering and ground staff – the first priority for all of our people is the pursuit of safety in all they do, for the benefit of customers, colleagues and shareholders.
Safety underpins everything we do. The organisation is structured to focus on safety issues at all levels, and it is the first agenda item at every Board meeting. Our safety culture positively encourages the reporting of all safety-related incidents and events, through a range of reporting tools, no matter how minor they may seem. These reports are assessed and categorised, with risk values assigned and aggregated to form our Composite risk value (CRV) index. This process allows safety trends to be identified and corrective action implemented, as part of our Safety Management System (SMS). Our CRV index showed a steady improvement for the year under review as illustrated here. However, we are not complacent about safety issues and continue to exercise vigilance in order to continuously improve our safety performance.
As part of the feedback process to our crew, we launched a new regular safety bulletin during the year. This highlights and encourages best practice, thus keeping our flight and cabin crews fully engaged with safety improvement initiatives.
In our industry, risk is unavoidable. The key lies in how this risk is identified and managed in a transparent manner.
2009 saw the introduction of a new Safety Management System, which provides a framework for managing the two pillars of safety performance and safety compliance at easyJet. Adopted by the European Aviation Safety Agency’s European Commercial Aviation Safety Team with our active support, the SMS is a continuous improvement process. It focuses on identifying hazards, assessing the risks associated with those hazards, managing these risks and then ensuring that any changes have had the desired impact.
Andy Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, and Operations Director, Cor Vrieswijk, are responsible for all aspects of safety delivery, including our compliance obligations under the Air Operators Certificate (AOC). Andy Harrison, the Accountable Safety Executive, chairs our Safety Review Board. The Safety Review Board meets monthly to assess reports from the Safety Action Groups we have established across the business. This review and assessment process delivers monthly reports to both the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) and the easyJet Board. Our Director of Safety and Security, Captain Dave Prior, reports directly to the Board independently of the Operations Director.
Flight management data recorded during 98% of our flights is sent via a GPRS link direct to our Luton base as soon as the aircraft has touched down. Several thousand megabytes of data are transmitted per flight, and all are analysed and fed into the SMS within 24 hours.
During the year, we became only the second UK airline to be granted approval for managing our in-house pilot training to ensure it meets our specific training requirements.
Under the Alternative Training Quality Programme (ATQP), we are now allowed to tailor one of the two mandatory annual flight simulator sessions to match our own training needs identified through the SMS and the specific circumstances of our routes.
During 2009, our pilots undertook around 15,000 hours of simulator training, with the prime focus on practising realistic scenarios.
Sessions are carried out in real time, with three levels of threat introduced during the flight, to provide valuable data on our pilots’ operational management skills. In addition, the tailored sessions enable us to increase pilot familiarity with new airports, which are continually added to the network.
The excellence in service displayed by easyJet cabin crew has its roots in the Academy, easyJet’s dedicated aircrew training facility at Luton. It’s here that cabin crew learn advanced first aid and how to handle emergency situations. The syllabus covers all aspects of the regulatory requirements plus those elements of crew resource management that make our cabin crew stand out from the crowd. The technical training is enhanced through the use of a dedicated cabin simulator and fire fighting module.
As we seek to optimise the use of our assets, we need to be able to monitor and manage crew performance effectively, ensuring that our crew remain sufficiently alert at all times. In 2006, we adopted an innovative approach, with the introduction of a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) in conjunction with the UK CAA, to assess the potential risks of pilot fatigue based on intensive scheduling practices. This pioneering work has led to easyJet being at the forefront of crew performance management, in the pursuit of operational safety.
The FRMS enables us to monitor and understand the relationships between rostering, operational variables, crew performance and workload, allowing procedures to be implemented or strengthened.
As part of our continuous improvement programme, we are working with the UK CAA, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International FRMS forum and organisations such as Imperial College London, City University London and most recently NASA, to further improve our understanding of fatigue. This will allow us to develop more flexible roster patterns and operational procedures to support our expansion while also retaining the focus on operational safety. Our work in the field of fatigue has now gained worldwide recognition as industry best practice and has inspired the introduction of similar programmes across other airlines, with the approval of the regulators.