Operational safety

At Cathay Pacific, we strive to maintain the highest levels of safety. We are committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all personnel, and we achieve this by adopting a risk-driven approach in identifying and eliminating hazardous conditions.

One of the safety goals of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon is to achieve zero accidents and zero ‘high-risk’ incidents. As stated previously, there were no reports of any classified accidents or high-risk events in 2016. Reports also show a clean slate in regards to accidents in 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Safety policy

The following statement is the commitment made and signed in the Cathay Pacific Group Safety Policy by Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer, Rupert Hogg and Cathay Dragon Chief Executive Officer, Algernon Yau. This policy is prominently displayed around the operating network:

“Safety is our number-one priority at Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, and we are fully committed to providing a safe operational and working environment. Ultimate accountability for safety rests with us as the Accountable Executives.

However, responsibility for safety lies with each and every one of us in the airlines. All our business partners, suppliers and contractors are all encouraged to share our primary safety goal, which is to have zero accidents or injuries.

This can be achieved by developing an organisational culture where safety comes first… a just culture where non-punitive reporting is encouraged… a reporting culture where all staff are encouraged to raise safety concerns… a learning culture ensuring that we learn from our own mistakes as well as those made by others… and an informed culture by applying appropriate quality and risk management systems and processes as part of our decision making.

We will establish, measure and review our safety objectives, safety performance indicators and targets regularly, to ensure that we continually improve our management system and safety performance.

Every individual within Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon is responsible for ensuring that safety comes first. You have our personal commitment and support to achieve this goal.”

Please see here for the safety policy.

IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA)

In 2014, Cathay Pacific became one of the first airlines to pass the enhanced International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) with no findings. The total accident rate for IOSA carriers in 2015 was significantly lower than the rate for non-IOSA operators. As such, IOSA has become a global standard. The enhanced audit ensures conformity through ongoing biennial audits, implementation of IOSA standards and reliability through the integrity of their internal quality assurance programmes against a highly standardised audit.

Both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon successfully renewed their IOSA accreditations in 2016.

Safety risk management

The Cathay Pacific Group Safety Management System (SMS) ensures that we manage safety and risks using a combination of both reactive and proactive methods. Events and incidents are investigated thoroughly and safety performance indicators are actively monitored on a monthly basis by ‘Safety Action Groups’ (SAGs) and the Airline Safety Review Committees (ASRCs). All safety meetings are attended by subject matter experts from the respective disciplines. Risks are also addressed proactively by conducting cross-departmental risk assessments for any changes to the way the airlines operate, such as the commencement of a new route, the introduction of a new cabin service or changes to the organisational structure.

In addition, independent safety expert Dr. David King chairs the Group Airline Safety Review Committee (GASRC) and the Board Safety Review Committee (BSRC), both of which convene twice a year and report directly to the Cathay Pacific Board. Dr. King is a former Chief Inspector of Accidents at the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), a visiting professor at Cranfield University and a member of the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) board. The following are a few examples of how the SMS addressed aviation safety risks in 2016.

SMS governance structure

Cargo agent operation programme

Hong Kong’s advantage in the air cargo market has been a result of the efficient consolidation of cargo by freight forwarders, particularly by allowing them to consolidate and build up cargo before tender for carriage. Whilst this model does occur in other ports, it is not on the same scale as in Hong Kong. As freight forwarders perform part of the airline’s warehouse functions in Hong Kong, they are also integral to maintaining safe standards and quality services.

In 2016, Cathay Pacific Cargo introduced the Cargo Agent Operation Programme in Hong Kong in order to provide support and guidance to our customers in achieving a safe, consistent, and high-quality operating model.

This programme has brought:

  • Standardisation by producing a Cargo Agent Manual that documents key operating processes for our freight forwarders.

  • Qualification by providing training to ensure all requirements are well communicated and understood.

  • Improvement opportunities through the application of quality control mechanisms to identify gaps in operating flows and formulate solutions to ensure conformity.

  • Enhanced performance oversight through a more efficient and systematic approach to the handling of safety occurrences and identifying recurring issues through trend analysis.

Cathay Pacific Cargo continuously works on the programme implementation and reviews the processes on a regular basis to ensure the latest safety and industry requirements are incorporated in a practical way.

Airbus A350-900 entry into service

Cathay Pacific proactively managed the operational and safety risks associated with the entry into service of this brand new aircraft type from 2014 to its use for the first flight in 2016. Cathay became the first airline to deploy its pilots to fly both the Airbus A330 and A350 under a single licence. A full safety risk assessment, approved by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (HK CAD), was completed for this activity. As a brand new aircraft type to the operation, Cathay teams continue to monitor closely its safety and reliability.

Emergency Vision Assurance System (EVAS) installed on freighter aircraft

Following a comprehensive safety risk assessment in 2014, a decision was taken to install EVAS on the flight deck of all Cathay Pacific freighter aircraft. EVAS is an additional mitigation in the ongoing task to protect our passengers, staff and aircraft against the risks of smoke, fire and fumes onboard, a prime source of which could be from the combustion of lithium batteries. EVAS works by shielding the instruments from smoke, which enables the pilots to maintain a clear vision in the event that the flight deck is filled with smoke.

Introduction of Bowtie risk modelling

The Cathay Pacific Group is always looking at new processes and tools that can help to make the management of safety risk more efficient and effective. In 2016, a new risk modelling technique, called ‘Bowtie’ (with reference to the shape of the model’s structure), was introduced into the portfolio of tools available to the airline in order to manage safety risk. Bowtie is a tool which allows a multi-disciplinary team to produce carefully and systematically a scenario-based model that showcases detailed risk management. The methodology starts from identifying and describing the scenario and undesirable event first, then finding all of the possible direct causes and consequences of that event. Next, the model is enhanced by recognising the controls or barriers that play into causes leading to consequential events. The aim of this technique is to understand better how each control or barrier contributes to the management of safety risks so that more holistic and systematic improvements can be made.

Basic structure of a Bowtie risk model

Safety promotion

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon continue to promote safety and a wider understanding of the safety management system (SMS) within the group. In order to maintain our strong stance with regards to safety awareness, information on incidents and initiatives are reported to our front line staff and management through various newsletters, magazines and bulletins.

All staff in safety-critical roles are required to complete training in SMS to a level of depth that is commensurate with their role in safety management. All new-joining operational staff receive a comprehensive, tailored SMS briefing. Cabin crew who have been promoted to Inflight Service Manager (ISM) and pilots who have been promoted to Captain also receive a further briefing prior to adopting their new roles.

Fatigue risk management system

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have a complex passenger and freighter route network with pilots based all over the world and living in vastly different time zones.

This has created a challenging task in pilot rostering and fatigue management. Consequently, managing pilot fatigue risk is an important component of the SMS. During 2016, we continued to develop and mature the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS), which was established in 2011.

The aim of the FRMS is to complement the existing HK CAD Approved Flight Time Limitations Scheme (AFTLS), which aim to ensure that crew members have had an adequate amount of time to rest prior to commencing a duty period, and that the duration and timing of individual duty periods will enable them to operate safely and efficiently in all situations.

The FRMS complements the AFTLS by introducing an evidence-based, data-driven system with reactive, proactive and predictive elements that are used to continuously monitor and control fatigue-related safety risk to a level that is ‘As Low As Reasonably Practicable’ (ALARP).

At Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, we value our flight crew, thus we believe firmly in the FRMS. We understand the importance of taking the appropriate measures, supporting procedures and training to ensure that our flight crew are not subjected to unacceptable levels of work-related fatigue. Flight crew also have a personal obligation to minimise fatigue so that they are fit when reporting for duty and shall not perform any duty if they consider their fatigue level to be unacceptable.

There are currently no HK CAD regulatory requirements for local aircraft operators to have this additional FRMS. Nevertheless, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon have implemented a system that far exceeds current HK CAD regulations pertaining to the management of pilot fatigue.

Fatigue Risk Management Initiatives in 2016

In 2016, the FRMS continued to evolve by conducting studies to answer specific operational questions, increasing internal communication and serving on international fatigue forums and taskforces.

Fatigue-related safety risks were identified via fatigue reporting (Air Safety Reports – Fatigue (ASR-Fs)), and extensive analysis using fatigue software (FAST). As a result, changes were made to rostering practices for both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon to mitigate these risks. In addition to these routine processes, the FRMS conducted studies to answer specific operational questions. For example, a series of flight patterns were trialed and studied by the FRMS throughout 2016, one of which was approved for continued operation.

Tailored flight crew communications continued via the FRMS Bulletin, a regular newsletter to update crew on FRMS activities, for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. An FRMS article also appeared in the 2016 issue of the Group Safety Magazine regarding an actigraphy study conducted in 2015 that used wrist-worn devices to record sleep which was then used to predict fatigue levels.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon’s FRMS experience is much sought after by industry groups. In 2016, the Group Safety Manager – FRMS continued to serve on the Management Committee of the International FRMS Forum and on the IATA FRMS Taskforce, including presenting on behalf of the IATA FRMS Task Force at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Symposium on Fatigue Management Approaches.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon are industry leaders in FRMS, and we will continue to develop and mature the FRMS throughout 2017 and beyond.

Emergency response system

The Cathay Pacific Crisis Response Centre is a wholly dedicated facility with logistical capabilities to manage a global response effort.

A regularly tested corporate emergency plan includes a centralised command protocol, customised local response teams, telephone enquiry and support centres, and biennially trained special assistance volunteers. All services can be activated by a 24/7 notification system in the event that a crisis response is required.

More than 1,200 airline staff members comprise the Care Team, which has a single focus on assisting passengers and their families during a crisis. For significant events, another 8,000 specially trained volunteers are available to supplement the Care Team through the airline’s membership in the Family Assistance Foundation.

The 100 outports in our network participated in at least one emergency exercise simulation over the twelve-month period ending in 2016 in order to test our local teams’ response capabilities.

An Incident Management protocol enables all incidents to be immediately classified and managed by the scalable Incident Management team.

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