Ground Operations
Dr Louise Raggett
Professor Ann Williamson

Managing risk has become increasingly important in modern organisations. Managers recognise it is difficult to manage without measurement, however, it is difficult to know what to measure in order to drive the continuous safety improvements, promised by modern safety management systems. One industry where safety performance improvement appears to have stalled, is aviation ground operations. Unlike the flight operations, which is now regarded as an Ultra-safe system (Amalberti 2001, p. 109) ground aviation has languished behind the rest of the industry (Verschoor and Young 2011), with activities on the ramp now accounting for more than a quarter of all aviation incidents (Balk and Bossenbroek 2010). In recent years, both damage to aircraft on the ground, as well as harm to ground personnel have escalated (Passenier 2015 p. 38).The aim of this research was therefore to review current approaches to safety measurement and develop a new data collection tools to inform evidenced-based interventions that will reinvigorate ground safety improvement.

To achieve this models and measures influential to aviation safety are reviewed. The Threat and Error Management Model (TEM) and Line Operation Safety Audit (LOSA) method (Klinect, Murray, Merritt and Helmreich 2003) are critically examined for their suitability. Strengths and weaknesses are identified, with the aim of building on the benefits of LOSA whilst addressing key concerns about LOSA s validity. A new model and method are proposed known as Normal Operations Monitoring (NOM). NOM is applied in a ground handling organisation, with data collected from over 1300 observations of aircraft turnarounds.

The results provide novel data about human and safety performance and suggest new opportunities for safety interventions and improvement. Implications for ground safety are explored as well as the potential applications and benefits of NOM generally. The final discussion explores ways in which the current research and NOM tools could be taken forward as a method for informing and improving safety management in high hazard industries.