A Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA) is a proactive, formal process that requires expert and highly trained observers to observe operations in real-time and to collect safety-related data on environmental conditions, operational complexity, and human performance on the flightdeck. Numerous airline and environmental threats exist in the operating environment. These threats can be due to weather, delays, maintenance, procedures, and more. LOSA is an ideal way to identify these threats and understand flightcrew responses. LOSA also reveals how errors and undesired aircraft states are managed by flightcrews.
LOSA is not a checkride or a line check. LOSA is confidential and nonpunitive. LOSA is conducted by a non-threatening company employee (typically another pilot) who rides in the jumpseat taking notes on what is happening during the course of a normal flight. Once all the data are collected, then a report is written and recommendations are made to management to both reinforce the positives and improve the negatives. LOSA enables organizations to manage threats and errors so that those threats and errors do not turn into accidents and incidents in the future. With LOSA, you are being predictive—which is the ultimate form of proactive safety!
LOSA is highly recommended by IATA for airlines that intend to be listed in the IOSA Registry. The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is the benchmark for global safety management in airlines!
We already do line audits, wouldn’t LOSA be redundant and a waste of our money and resources?
Absolutely not! You may be conducting similar audits, but they are not using the LOSA methodology. The difference is that your audits are probably conducted to satisfy a compliance check. The checklist probably has lots of boxes to be checked off by the auditor, and there very well may be punitive measures doled out to violators. A pilot line check comes to mind. That is not LOSA.
To say that you are conducting a true LOSA audit, the following primary criteria must be met. Your LOSA:
- Must be based on the Threat and Error Management Model (TEMM)
- Is not being treated as a regulatory compliance audit (box checking)
- Must be confidential and non-punitive
TEMM is the fundamental building block for LOSA. TEMM allows trained observers to observe crews in real time to collect safety data related to the handling of Threats, Errors, and Undesired States. Observer narratives and crew interviews are also collected in the process.
A representative sample of the operation is audited, typically over a 2-3 month period. Once all the data are collected, they are then analyzed and a full report is written. All of the data remain confidential and the process ensures that there is no way to identify individual crews with the observations.
LOSA is a proactive safety tool that can pay huge dividends. Many of our airline clients have identified significant threats and error-handling issues in their operating environments that they were blinded to previously. And once identified, they have made management-approved, data-driven changes based strictly on the LOSA results. Many of these issues were not identified through regular compliance audit channels. These airlines have boasted that a LOSA more than pays for itself by reducing risks and improving safety in a way that a regular compliance audit simply cannot. And many airlines with a formal LOSA program are also enjoying reduced hull insurance premiums, too!
LOSA Complements FDM To Give The Safety Manager A Complete Picture
Many safety managers proclaim that their Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) program is all they need to get the big picture of what’s going on with their fleet in the real world. Well, that’s not entirely true. While FDM can provide excellent data, the data are still limited to the “what” as opposed to the “why” it is happening. As an example, a significant amount of unstablized approaches at a particular airport may be showing up in the FDM data, but these “0’s and 1’s” don’t do much to help us to understand the contributing factors leading up to these unstablized approaches.
A Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA) is a great tool to complement your FDM data because LOSAs, which are conducted in real-time using trained observers, allow you to put words to the numbers. LOSA observers actually see what’s happening and are recording their observations on a structured LOSA form. Are the unstablized approaches due to ATC issues? A Procedural problem? Checklist flow? These are things that FDM by itself cannot capture. But, by combining FDM with LOSA, you will have a much more robust picture and thus can take a more pragmatic approach to correcting any issues.