Safety and Standards
At Adria Airways we have a 50-year tradition in passenger transport, and the same tradition in ensuring safety and the maintenance of our fleet, which currently comprises two Airbus A320, two Airbus A319, 4 Canadair Regional Jet CRJ900, six Canadair Regional Jet CRJ200.
Why is flying with Adria Airways safe?
The aviation industry has built into its operations many back-up safety features, and this is an everyday part of life at Adria Airways. These are:
- a culture of safety;
- consistent adherence to regulations and standards;
- formation of the safety team;
- regular crew evaluation;
- double and treble back-up components on aircraft;
- strictly regulated crew working hours;
- observing differences between airports;
- technological advances for managing crowded skies;
- controlling human error in the cockpit;
- maintaining aircraft for safe flights.
Culture of safety
In any airline the basis of all operations is the culture of safety. This means that all employees (from the CEO down) – and not just the flight crew – must be focused primarily on how their work will contribute to safe flying. The culture of safety indicates that everyone at Adria Airways is aware when we do our work of the importance of every last detail that ensures the safe operation of our aircraft.
Regulations and standards
The culture of safety is the foundation, and built onto this are the numerous standards and regulations that lay down the organisation of the company, operating procedures and flight safety. Each airline operates in line with the laws of its country, but it must also operate in line with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Union.
In addition to this, Adria Airways was one of the first airlines in the world to receive the IOSA safety certificate (IATA Operational Safety Audit) regarding all the technical regulations, and an ISO standards certificate that determines the quality of company management.
Every airline has a group of people dealing specifically with safety. Smaller airlines usually assign just one person to this task, but Adria, despite being ranked as a smaller airline, has a team of four pilots who supply recommendations and requests to management.
The job of our safety team is to oversee the system of reporting unexpected and irregular events. The procedure is very simple and is based on anonymity.
If a pilot or anyone else in the crew makes a professional error, they must document the circumstances in which the error was made and explain the possible cause. The airline guarantees that there will be no disciplinary sanctions resulting from this. In this way we encourage real reporting of errors. On the basis of these reports from crews, the safety team formulates recommendations for changes and submits them to the CEO. Aircraft maintenance personnel have a similar system.
The airline must also report certain events that are set out in European regulations, such as engine failure, to the Civil Aviation Authority.
And why is it so important for these events to be so faithfully recorded (added to which, airlines share this information with each other)?
Such events are incidents that could in certain circumstances affect safety, so the crew must be prepared for them.
One of the safety team members is also assigned to scrutinise the system of flight data monitoring. This system is very similar to the black box, recording approximately 150 different pieces of data during the flight. After each flight the data are processed by an expert who examines them for variances. If for instance he determined that pilots were landing at higher or lower speeds than recommended, he would write up a recommendation for immediate training of all crews.
Regular crew evaluation
Every six months pilots undergo simulator training for emergency procedures such as engine failure, fire in an engine, smoke in the cabin, loss of cabin pressure and so forth. In addition to this, at least once a year they must undergo what is termed Line Oriented Flight Training, where they perform a one-hour simulated flight from pre-flight check to landing.
The simulated flights are carried out so that they are as similar as possible to a real flight with specific malfunctions or other problems. In this situation the instructor plays the part of air traffic controller, flight attendant and mechanic. When the exercise is over it is followed by video analysis, where the pilots evaluate their actions in detail along with the instructor. In such exercises they must also attain the standards that allow them to renew their licences.
Flight attendants also undergo regular evaluation and supplementary training. They practice emergency disembarkation, extinguishing fires in the cabin and similar situations.
Double and treble back-up components
Passengers sometimes say that an aircraft has "broken down". But aircraft never "break down". They are made up of thousands of components and for safety reasons all of them are redundant, doubled or even trebled. Aircraft can therefore fly on to their destination in complete safety, even though one or even two components have malfunctioned.
If a pilot determines that something in the aircraft is not working as it should, he notes the fault down in the technical log. When the aircraft lands, a mechanic must correct the fault immediately and confirm this in writing. Of course with major aircraft malfunctions such as engine failure in the air, the pilot must land at the nearest airport, even though the legal restrictions permit flying for at least another hour. The flight can therefore continue safely, but under no circumstance can the aircraft take off again with such a serious fault. The procedure for replacing and checking components is laid down by the manufacturer, and this must also be confirmed by the Civil Aviation Authority.
It can also happen that the aircraft returns to its gate when flight preparations were already under way. Occasionally during routine pre-flight checks, pilots identify a malfunction in one of the components, and although in some cases they are permitted to fly, they prefer the option of getting the malfunction fixed straight away. In the majority of cases, however, they are not permitted to take off, even though the aircraft could fly normally. Aircraft can even take off safely with an engine malfunction, but this is only permitted when there is no longer any possibility of stopping the take-off on the runway.
Crew working hours are strictly determined and regulated by law. Daily, weekly and even monthly limits are prescribed. Working hours are laid down by international conventions and all airlines must abide by them.
And the airport?
For pilots it actually makes no difference which airport they land at, since the same level of safety is provided everywhere, but some airports have certain limitations.
For instance, if an airport is known to be subject to high winds, then the airline can stipulate that its aircraft will only land in winds not exceeding a certain speed.
Of course airports like that also demand special attention and preparation. Pilots can fly to some airports, for instance, only if they undergo special advance training for it.
Air traffic is increasingly heavy, but at the same time the technology for ensuring safe flying is advancing. Recently the vertical distance between aircraft in flight corridors at altitudes over 8,800 m was reduced to 300 m. And this is the distance that has always been used for lower altitudes.
Better aircraft equipment, improved altimeters and special procedures for using smaller vertical distances between aircraft have enabled this change. Another advance of recent years is the system for warning of the possibility of mid-air collisions, which also provides pilots with instructions on how to avoid collisions.
In the world of aviation, concern for safety is growing from year to year. And development of new equipment is advancing rapidly. The system that warns of the possibility of collision in the air or on the ground has been radically improved, and aircraft navigation systems have also been upgraded, so that aircraft can now land in fog with visibility down to just 75 m.
In the aviation business, however, we never forget that the human factor is still the most important thing. In the past 20 years experts have been rapidly developing the concept of managing human resources in the cockpit, since working together in the cockpit is sometimes decisively important.
It has been shown that a very high percentage of accidents occur when the copilot knows something is wrong but cannot or is somehow incapable of alerting the pilot, or the pilot simply does not listen.
Alongside cooperation in the cockpit, pilots also practice the method of decision-making or weighing up the facts before making a final decision. Of course among pilots the rule is that where there is any doubt, you always go for the safer option.
Maintaining aircraft for safe flights
Every time an Adria Airways aircraft lands the Adria Tehnika maintenance personnel inspect it, service it and in the event of faults on individual systems, they follow the recommended procedures from the aircraft manufacturer. Adria Tehnika maintenance staff work in three shifts and are on hand 24 hours a day. At the home airport of Ljubljana, Adria has two heated hangars containing all the necessary workshops and storage space.
The aircraft maintenance system, which defines in detail the methods and frequency of maintaining all systems on the aircraft, is set out by the aircraft manufacturer. There are several types of inspection:
- daily inspections
- weekly inspections
- A inspections
- general inspections.
In daily inspections, service crews perform a general visual inspection of the aircraft in order to detect possible physical damage to vital parts and, where necessary, top up aircraft fluids, check the state of emergency equipment and the passenger cabin, and check the tyre pressure.
During the daily inspections they deal with all possible faults in the aircraft systems that would prevent it from flying out of the home airport the next day. The pilot, too, checks the functioning of all systems before each flight, especially the aerodynamic control surfaces. Special attention is also paid to the operation of the engines.
With the help of the on-board computer and appropriate equipment on the ground, the technical ground crew constantly monitor the correct operation of the engines and wear trends, and determine when the engine needs to be removed from the aircraft, inspected and overhauled.
Each week, aircraft undergo more detailed inspections, where the service crews additionally inspect and check all systems: from the command systems to those for safety, such as all systems for extinguishing fires on the aircraft.
The first comprehensive periodic maintenance inspection, known as the A inspection, must be performed every 500 to 600 hours of flying, every 45 days on average. At this time service staff change the filters, and they inspect and test in minute detail all vital aircraft systems. Once a year they closely inspect the airframe (wings and fuselage), all systems and, of course, the engines.
Given the equipment, training and experience of Adria Tehnika technical personnel, can also perform highly demanding and comprehensive five-year aircraft inspections. At that time, in addition to checking the operation of all systems, a close inspection is performed of the aircraft structure in order to detect any possible damage, cracks or corrosion of the airframe. In this inspection we also pay close attention to the general cleanliness and anti-corrosion protection of the aircraft's structure, since this is the key to the long lifespan of the aircraft.
General aircraft inspections, which are due every 10 years, are performed at a major authorised service centre. At that time the entire aircraft is overhauled, which for the Airbus A320 lasts six weeks or 25,000 man-hours.
Owing to such thorough maintenance, as much as 99.5 per cent of Adria Airways flights are free from delays caused by malfunctions, which places us among the best in the world in terms of reliability.
For its high-quality aircraft maintenance and harmonisation of both the organisation and the entire system of aircraft maintenance with the recommendations and standards valid in the EU, Adria Tehnika received a European Union JAR 145 certificate. With this certificate they can also offer aircraft maintenance to other carriers. In 2004 Adria Tehnika was one of the first 12 companies in the world to obtain the IOSA safety certificate.