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Making safer skies: World’s aviation experts meet at Imperial

Friday 27 May 2005

Safety in the skies is the focus of the worlds civil aviation authorities and air navigation service providers as they converge on Imperial this week. Representatives of aviation authorities and service providers from as far afield as South Africa and New Zealand are taking part in a two-day workshop, looking at how records of previous incidents and accidents across the worlds airspace can be used to prevent accidents in the future. The workshop, held on 25 and 26 May, is the first to bring aviation authorities together to discuss and learn from their collective experience of safety incidents and to attempt to define a research programme in collaboration with a major research institution.

Gathering and defining categories for accidents and incidents in air transport is one of the issues to be addressed by experts in the field at the workshop. How incident data can best be collected, reported, and analysed is another key topic for discussion. An archive of reports of incidents that have occurred in at least eight civil aviation authorities around the world is being compiled at the College.

Dr Washington Ochieng, Centre for Transport Studies and one of the organisers of the workshop, explained: "The main aim of the workshop is to contribute to the improvement of safety in air transport. By bringing together safety experts from a number of key countries we will be able to not only exchange information and knowledge, but begin to understand what makes best practice."

A research plan to improve aviation safety is eventually expected to result from the event. In the organisers view, the workshop represents a huge step forward because civil aviation authorities have often been unwilling to make sensitive data available.

Dr Ochieng added: "This is a unique opportunity to make a real difference. Its been a real challenge getting all these people in the same place at the same time. We have representatives coming from New Zealand, the USA, Australia, India, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom and EUROCONTROL. Professor Andrew Evans, Dr Arnab Majumdar and myself have spent a long time organising this, so we are excited that its finally underway."