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Monday, July 14, 2008

Loss of Data Mining would Forfeit 95% of Data

Without its data gathering programs such as Air Transportation Oversight System (ATOS), which prioritizes inspector work assignments using the Air Carrier Assessment tools to identify risks and Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), which encourages aviation employees to voluntarily report safety information that may be critical to identifying potential precursors to accidents, and others like Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) which collects and analyzes digital flight data generated during normal operations, FAA would only have access to about five percent of data, severely precluding efforts to use data mining to catch negative safety trends and develop fixes before they conspire to cause an accident, according to Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Nick Sabatini.
In addition, the FAA uses the Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program (VDRP) which provides incentives for an FAA-regulated entity to voluntarily identify, report, and correct instances of regulatory noncompliance. The program allows the FAA to oversee and participate in the root-cause analysis of the events leading to the violations and approvements, and oversees corrective actions and conducts follow-up surveillance.
Despite the massive criticism it has received this approach must be having some impact since a recent audit indicated that there was 99 percent compliance with safety mandates, the agency said. Related Story
Computer scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas are developing technology that will sift through mountains of aviation data in search of ways to further enhance flight safety, according to RAN’s sister publication Air Safety Week. Part of a new three-year, $1 million NASA-funded project being done in collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the work focuses on more than three decades of what are called "anomalous aviation events,” or incidents that deviated from normal flight operations. Using data-mining techniques that are increasingly popular in searching for kernels of relevant information within enormous amounts of data – crime statistics or genomics data, for instance – researchers at UT Dallas hope to identify subtle patterns of aviation events that could foreshadow future catastrophe. The primary source for air safety information is the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) database. UT Dallas researchers will be addressing two primary questions involving this aviation data: What anomalies are associated with a given aviation event, and why did the event occur. These issues are complicated, though, by the "noise” inherent in the data, which stems from typos and grammatical mistakes as well as the use of abbreviations and jargon not widely used outside the aviation industry.
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