Operational Safety

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We Put Safety First

At the core of our organisational culture is a 'safety comes first' philosophy which forms the basis of all of our activities. Our primary goal is zero accidents and injuries. Cathay Pacific and Dragonair share the same goals and this is demonstrated by the adoption and implementation of similar safety policies and procedures.

Key issues raised by stakeholders on Safety
Aircraft safety for passengers and staff. Staff health and safety. Emergency response. Health pandemic response.
Operational safety

We use a risk-based approach to safety - managing safety is about managing operational risks. Our Safety Management System (SMS) has been accepted by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (HKCAD). Hong Kong is still one of the few places in the world that have mandated an airline SMS, placing Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific at the forefront of safety management. Our SMS defines how we manage safety as an integral part of our overall business. We have developed SMS training and information for all of our staff, to ensure that all employees understand how to manage safety and operational risk. This SMS eLearning module will be released in 2011.

We have a comprehensive list of safety performance objectives, indicators and targets that combines measures of safety, security, occupational health and safety, quality and contingency planning. These safety performance metrics are documented and reviewed on a monthly basis. Many of our safety metrics are benchmarked against industry performance.

The Airline Safety Review Committee (ASRC) has been meeting monthly for over 42 years to guide the management of safety in Cathay Pacific and is supported by Safety Action Groups representing air, engineering, cabin and ground safety, which also meet monthly. The ASRC, which is chaired by the Head of Corporate Safety, met for the 500th time in August 2010. The Committee is under direct governance of the Board Safety Review Committee which meets twice yearly and is made up of directors and general managers from all operational departments, heads of the Quality, Medical and Security departments, and safety managers from Cathay Pacific, as well as senior management from HAECO and HAS. The ASRC Chairman reports to the Chief Executive after each meeting.

We capture in-flight conformance data from every flight and encourage staff to report all incidents, hazards, threats and errors, and safety concerns. By analysing data from all of these sources we are able to manage safety on both a proactive and reactive basis.

We continue to emphasise Threat and Error Management (TEM) training for pilots, cabin crew and engineers, helping them to manage operational risk more effectively.

In 2010, Cathay Pacific successfully completed its 4th IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit). We are proud of our achievement to have had only two minor findings in the audit. In addition, we audit the 75 ports that we operate into on a regular basis. We have also been instrumental in the implementation of ISAGO (IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations). ISAGO is an audit program for ground handling companies that serve airlines. The audits are conducted in a globally standardised and consistent manner, with the aim of improving operational safety in the airport ground environment and to reduce damage to aircraft and equipment.

Safety Occurrences (Cathay Pacific)

Safety Occurrences include all incidents and accidents occurring in 2010. Risk levels are determined by the Cathay Pacific risk management matrix. High risks are significant risks that require immediate attention. Moderate risks are significant risks that require appropriate mitigation and monitoring.

Part of our social responsibility involves assisting other airlines and the industry as a whole in improving safety. To help guide the management of global aviation safety, Cathay Pacific hosted the IATA Incident Review Meeting (IRM), which is a large gathering of safety professionals from airlines around the world to discuss incidents and accidents with a view to sharing information in line with our learning culture. In addition, we also hosted the IATA Safety Group - which is currently chaired by our Head of Corporate Safety.

One of our safety goals is zero 'high risk' incidents. There was one 'high risk' safety incident in 2010 compared to three in 2009. There was also a slight reduction in 'moderate risk' safety incidents from 82 in 2009 to 79 in 2010.

Events classified as accidents

Two events were classified as accidents in 2010. The first related to Flight CX780 from Surabaya on 13 April 2010 which had to make an emergency landing at Hong Kong International airport after experiencing engine problems. There were no fatalities or serious injuries as passengers and crew were evacuated quickly and efficiently.

Our Crisis Management Centre was activated and 50 members of our CARE Team, including Indonesian speakers were mobilised to accompany injured passengers to the hospital and assist others with their baggage and connecting flights. The CX780 crew were brought back for a debrief and were offered support by the airline's psychologist and medical team.

    The HK CAD investigation is ongoing, and despite not being finalised, Cathay Pacific has taken several safety actions:
  • Conducted an extensive audit of the Surabaya fuel facilities;
  • Enhanced requirements for monitoring of aircraft refuelling at all airports to/from which we fly;
  • Review the contracting and audit procedures regarding the quality of fuel and re-fuelling services to be provided at all of the airports at which we refuel;
  • Joined the IATA fuel facility audit programme;
  • Widespread dissemination of the incident details within the industry to ensure that other airlines can take the same safety actions; and
  • Numerous strategies initiated to ensure that the industry learns from this incident.

The second accident related to a landing gear component on a B747-400 that had fractured and was found by engineers on the ground at London Heathrow airport after the crew had left the aircraft. Adjustments were made to manufacturers inspection criteria.