Barriers to hazard reporting in a safety-critical environment

Topics: Aviation

Pages: 8 | Words: 2116



The following work analyses reporting systems in the field of aviation and describes their historical development and importance. The proposed research has used the primary data collection technique and academically published papers that show the consequences for those involved if a reporting system is not implemented. At the same time, it was investigated whether and how these hazards related reporting could have changed its history. The result was that the current form of reporting system would have influenced the course and protected the incidents in the last two decades. Unfortunately, although there are already isolated reporting systems, there is still no procedure that offers holistic protection to the reporting.

Chapter 1: Introduction

The following work examines the existing reporting systems in aviation and shows; reporting systems are of immense importance in the aviation industry. The aeroplane is considered one of the safest means of transport today, as fewer accidents occur than buses, trains, or ships (Xue, et al., 2018). In addition, the level of security is increasing worldwide. Nevertheless, if something happens anyway, a comparatively large number of people are affected. With the help of functioning reporting systems, many aircraft accidents could have been prevented in advance, through which the flight personnel would have reported faults to a competent authority (Xue, et al., 2018).

An effective reporting system not only saves lives it also protects the airline from financial damages and is at the same time a preventive measure. Because of this, the work aims to analyse existing aviation reporting systems and to show to what extent they can improve flight safety via an effective report system so that the issues can be identified timely (Case et al., 2018). Furthermore, using different examples, possible effects occur if there is no reporting system and considerations are made as to how functioning systems would have changed something in those specific cases. Finally, the importance of reporting systems in aviation should be worked out and show what influence they have on air traffic safety.


Countries around the world are generally optimistic about the future development of the global air transport market. According to the predictions of relevant agencies, in the next 20 years, the average annual growth rate of global GDP will be 2.8%. As a result, the average yearly growth rate of air passenger turnover (RPK) will be 4.4%~4.7 %, which is still in the rapid growth range, maintaining a moderate growth trend of doubling every 15 years (Bağan et al., 2019). However, the structure of global aviation needs to undergo significant adjustments, and air transport will gradually shift from being mainly between developed countries to emerging economies (Miller et al., 2018).

To meet the needs of future air transportation development, the significant countries currently competing in the global aviation market have begun to take action to improve their reporting system and support capabilities, and a new round of global aviation hub infrastructure construction has already started to report the issues so that the major and minor accidents can be controlled timely (Davies et al., 2017). In the plans to upgrade the reporting system of significant hub airports globally, strengthening the promotion and application of new technologies to improve reporting system efficiency is an integral part (Davies et al., 2017).

The aviation industry intends to invest more than 600 million euros in improving the reporting system that will eventually help the passengers in check-in facilities and enhance the airport’s efficiency and the passenger service experience (Sarkheil et al., 2020). The reason behind this change, in recent years, the aviation industry has not paid much attention to the hazard reporting for which the numbers of accidents have occurred in the last two decades which with proper reporting system or the issues if had reported timely could have saved numbers of lives and planes at the same time. Adhered to high standards and high quality to promote hub airports’ reporting system and make every effort to encourage the positive reporting system (Sarkheil et al., 2020).

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1.2 Research Aims and Objectives

The proposed research aims to discuss the factors responsible for the lack of hazard related reporting in the aviation industry and why the issues are not reported by the employees timely. Furthermore, the proposed research also aims to discuss the reporting culture of the airline industry and how they are catered for reported accordingly. Finally, the proposed study seeks to examine the factors that can be improved and how reporting system can be used effectively to ensure smooth and safe operations.

Following are the objectives that the proposed research aims to achieve;

  • To study the responsible factors that why aviation employees do not report hazard related issues.
  • To analyse the organisational culture of the aviation industry concerning the hazard related reporting system.
  • To articulate the response of the airlines when hazard related complaints are launched.
  • To recommend how reports could be used in the employees’ evidence-based training and provide smooth, secure, safe, and efficient operations to the passengers

1.3 Research Questions

Following are the research questions that the proposed research aims to answer;

  • What are the responsible factors that why aviation employees do not report hazard related issues?
  • How organisation culture of the aviation industry reacts to the hazard related reporting system?
  • What is the usual response of the airlines when the hazard related complaints are launched?
  • How could hazard-related reports be used in the employees’ evidence-based training and provide smooth, secure, safe, and efficient operations to the passengers?

1.4 Rationale

The closer research, especially initially via the network reporting system, has clarified that there is still insufficient reporting structure in many countries. This must be improved, especially in aviation, due to the high level of responsibility. However, it has also studied in numbers of studies that employees from the aviation industry do not report hazard-related issues most of the time. This is because they believe that if they are wrong or have an unfair assessment, they will be accused of incorrect review delaying the flights and operations (Miller et al., 2019). Under such pressure, they also feel that they will lose their jobs that will negatively impact their career. As a result, it has been observed that out of 10, around 4 cases are not reported in the aviation industry. Based on this, the proposed research aims to discuss the barriers in the hazard reporting system. It then seeks to offer the strategies that the aviation system can use to mitigate the issues accordingly.

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Chapter 2: Literature Review

  • Issues in Reporting System

According to the survey Chatzimichailidou et al., (2020), young professionals in particular rarely report their concerns in the aviation industry. Moreover, it has also been noted, in response to this, compliance officers and HR managers do not inform the employees that hazard reporting is the responsibility of every employee regardless of how long they have been with the company or their position. As a result, it repeatedly happens that misconduct and unethical practices creep into the aviation industry and are even perceived as usual and customary (Cahill et al., 2020). However, to ensure a smooth operational process and flights, the aviation industry and companies pressure their employees not to highlight or report every issue. Also, reporting of the hazard can even delay or suspend the flights; therefore, airlines working in dense competition do not like this and start to put pressure or job threatening emails to the employees who usually report the issues.

As discussed, Begier et al., (2017), even if an employee dares to report a suspicion, it can be daunting not to receive feedback on the report’s outcome. Therefore, it is essential that employees feel that their concerns are being taken seriously and investigated. Unfortunately, the 2019 Report shows that only around 30 per cent of airlines inform the passengers and aviation about the complaints launched against them over security and safety. To guarantee the confidentiality of the people involved, the results of the reporting should be communicated.

Zhou et al., (2020) researched evaluating that why the majority of the risks and hazards are not reported in the aviation industry. For this, the interviews were taken from the employees who have done extensive research on writing culture in the aviation industry. From the analysis, it was found that often there is uncertainty about what should be reported and when. Therefore, the airlines' responsibility is to promote a culture in which trivial concerns can be raised. Because it is better to play it safe once too often than to risk damage to reputation or financial losses for the airlines. With the help of an anonymous or confidential reporting channel, employees showed they are willing to report hazard related issues.

Also, Ryley e al., (2020) conducted research on the areas that are responsible that why the employees do not report hazard issues. For which the questionnaires were conducted from the employees about the hazard issues. From the analysis, it was found that more than 60% of the airline employees do not report hazard related issues because they believe that the board of directors or top management knows about all the hazard related topics. However, the board of directors or management is looking for ways to be informed about risks in the airline even faster, as their reputation and resources are at stake (Schmid et al., 2018). Whereas some employees articulated that they are willing to report the issues anonymously because they do not want to risk their reputation and career growth. These arguments have also been supported.

Furthermore, the researchers have articulated that anonymous channels are a sure-fire way to report hazard-related issues in the aviation industry without fear of retaliation and blame. This lowers the inhibition threshold for the employees who report the issues. The results of the 2019 Report also show this (Kaspers et al., 2019): If companies offer an anonymous transmission of hazard related report, this option is used by almost 60 per cent of those reporting. However, some airlines have concerns that anonymity may make a case difficult to investigate the risks related issues. However, this concern is unfounded: digital reporting systems offer employees secure and anonymous transmission of information and allow confidential two-way communication, which can be used to transmit queries for investigating the case (Kaspers et al., 2019).

Significance of Reporting System

Has made a comparison between the affected airlines that had already implemented reporting controls and those that did not yet have a sufficient reporting system shows that an installed hotline reduces financial damage by 60%. In comparison, the effective reporting control policy reduces costs by 49.2%. A code of conduct reduces the loss by 45.7%, whereas a reward for reporting effectively reduces the costs by 28.7% (Onyegiri et al., 2017). Lechner et al., (2017) highlights how effectively a functioning reporting system can be and how the airline sector uses them.

From January 2015 to October 2017, the airline industry has received calls asking for trustworthy advice on reporting hazard-related issues. In 33% of the cases, lack of or insufficient security was the reason for the complaint provided by the employees, followed by financial misconduct with 28% and abuse of care with 12% in the airline industry (Baugh et al., 2018). In 27%, the complainants gave other reasons for their concern. Approximately 53% of the reports received come from the private sector, while 35% come from the public sector and 12% relate to the voluntary sector. The employees report the hazard-related reports most are listened to accordingly, and 15% of complaints are acted accordingly (Baugh et al., 2018).

Comparing the sources of information for reporting hazard related issues shows that the airlines have been actively involved in improving effective systems, especially in the last five years, which means that employees are more willing to give clues and uncover hazard related issues (Winter et al., 2020). With time, especially when the airlines did realise that working or acting according to the reported complaints can save their reputation and airlines with the passengers, it has been observed that the level of awareness of acting on complaints and its importance has increased, which is also shown by the increase in reporting hazard related issues (Winter et al., 2020).

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