Blogs: HeliOffshore Safety Intelligence Programme Delivers the Data We Need to Make the Frontline Safer
by Dr Matthew Greaves, Programme Manager, HeliOffshore
The new HeliOffshore Safety Intelligence Programme (HSIP) is already delivering significant volumes of operational data from frontline offshore helicopter operations around the world. As the scope of the programme is expanded, it has the potential to generate a wide range of data that supports and validates multiple aspects of HeliOffshore’s work to enhance safety.
To set up and run HSIP, HeliOffshore has partnered with acknowledged industry experts Tonic Analytics, NLR and GE Digital. We have put many months of work into establishing the governance rules and technical arrangements that ensure our members’ data stays securely protected at all stages of the process.
Not many people get excited talking about governance processes! However, these processes and procedures are absolutely crucial in giving our members the assurance that their data is both safe and being put to good use for safety. HSIP is overseen by HeliOffshore’s Safety Strategy Group (SSG) on behalf of the board and all requests for data are approved by that group. Even then, members remain free to decide whether or not they can respond to requests for data.
Safety intelligence is about collecting and analysing data for actionable results to give safety benefits. We are not doing this just to capture what’s happening in the industry, but to improve safety in the industry; this is about frontline operations and real results.
Given the number of reports and statistics that are available these days, it’s tempting to think that this data is already available. However, we are not interested in reinventing the wheel; where the data already exists we’ll make use of it, but there are differences between what HSIP is producing and what you will find in other reports.
One of the biggest differences is that HeliOffshore members own the data we’re using and so it’s down to them to decide how we use it. By bringing our members’ data together, safely and anonymously, we can build a picture of the entire industry and decide where best to focus our efforts. We can also then use the data to see if your actions are bringing a safety benefit.
HSIP has started with data from helicopter operators but, in future, it could also include data from OEMs, oil companies, regulators and other groups of HeliOffshore members.
One of the most fundamental things HSIP could help us to discover is the true accident rate for the offshore helicopter industry. Currently, it’s not clear that anyone really knows this value accurately and without it we can’t understand our exposure to the risk of accidents.
HSIP will also be a valuable guide for all aspects of our safety strategy. I suspect the data will show us some areas of risk in the frontlines that challenge our existing understanding. By bringing operators’ experiences together the whole industry can benefit from the insights we gain from that larger dataset. HSIP can highlight risks that individual operators have not experienced, but others have. This is particularly true for some of the smaller operators. All operators can learn from others flying different aircraft types, and especially new types. The data can highlight industry wide issues that are worth confronting together.
HSIP also gives operators the opportunity to ‘benchmark’ themselves against the industry. The data can highlight areas where their operation differs from the industry and they can decide whether that’s appropriate for them. Also, where there are areas of unusually good performance, we can work to understand what has led to that situation.
As we start to gather and analyse these datasets, we’ve also started planning the next phase of the programme. This will include expanding the scope of the requests for data and the Members involved to take the programme to the next level. By increasing the 4 V’s (volume, variety, velocity and voracity) of the data we’re gathering, we can start to develop our analysis to really provide our members with the benefits that Big Data can offer.
I’m extremely excited about the potential for this project to change safety for the better.
Author Note: Dr Matthew Greaves was appointed as HeliOffshore’s HSIP programme manager in January 2018. Dr Greaves is a respected aviation safety expert who was formerly the Head of the Safety and Accident Investigation Centre at the UK’s Cranfield University, where he worked for 10 years.