As an HRO, we regard problems and malfunctions as unavoidable. We view even the smallest occurrence as an opportunity to improve. We do not rest on our successes, but promote and protect the systematic identification and reporting of observations, problems and malfunctions. In doing so, we endeavour to learn from these effectively and systemically, and integrate our findings and conclusions into our organisation. Our attentiveness to these issues prevents our drifting into systemic failure.
Improvement of safety through an active error culture
The general public often believes that no mistakes can happen in air traffic control. That’s obviously not true. There are incidents in aviation – but only very rarely serious accidents. That’s not just luck. There’s a system behind it. The different elements of an HRO system such as safety nets, reporting culture and ultimately a good error culture – we call it just culture – help to avoid the worst.
On 15 March 2011, two aircraft were cleared for take-off shortly after each other at Zurich Airport. The incident caused neither personal injury nor property damage. The air traffic controller involved reported the incident, supported the investigation and even played an active role in the incident analysis, thereby making a significant contribution to the elimination of possible weak points. However, even in a company with a good safety culture, dealing with errors is not always easy. Because the cultivated error culture sometimes stands in contrast to legal standpoints or social expectations.