National Academies Press: OpenBook

Research Roadmap on Safety Issues (2020)

Chapter: 1. Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"1. Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Research Roadmap on Safety Issues. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25957.
Page 6

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Research Roadmap on Safety Issues 1 1. Introduction The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) is an industry-driven endeavor that strives to sponsor and publish research products that address the subjects seen by those in the field as being in need of dedicated study that will assist in solving the issues airports face. The ACRP relies upon the input from airports and airport stakeholders to recommend research topics. The practitioners and stakeholders are all too often thoroughly engrossed in the day-to-day management of routine airport operations to consider common challenges and issues that may warrant exploration through dedicated studies. Thus, a helping hand to aid in mining the industry for the most pressing and constructive research ideas benefits the industry by focusing research dollars on projects that will prove most valuable to airport improvement. This project is one such effort, focusing on the ideas that will lead to improvement in airport safety processes and performance. While airports of all sizes can experience similar challenges, they may see their needs only as internal issues and fail to share their concerns with others in the industry or take the time to suggest their issues be the subject of funded research. The safety challenges airports face brings another layer of privacy. Safety issues are typically held close to the chest for fear of having others become aware of individual deficiencies. Local and state laws may also hinder the sharing of safety issues and information between airports. As the air transportation industry continues its evolution toward achieving the next level of safety through the employment of safety management systems (SMS) and the affiliated proactive processes, new questions on the best and most practical approaches for safety improvement are being asked. This project endeavored to capture the key safety concerns of airports across the country and of all sizes, along with airport safety issues expressed by airport stakeholders (such as commercial air carriers and aircraft manufacturers), and present them in a way that allows those in the field to offer comment and help set the direction for future safety related research projects. This improved way of identifying the most pertinent and pressing safety issues where guidance on practical solutions for industry practitioners can be developed through research will benefit the entire airport industry. 1.1 Project Objectives The overarching objective of this research project was to identify gaps in research that has, or is currently, addressing airport safety issues, and collate them into a single source available to the industry for review, comment, and to use as a framework for future problem statements to spur funded research. The purpose for the development of research roadmaps, including the safety roadmap that is the focus of this project, was outlined in the original problem statement as follows: Traditionally, ACRP primarily has used a bottom-up approach for these ideas, expressed as formal problem statements. ACRP’s Oversight Committee has adopted a strategic plan that prioritizes and ensures “that problem statements are of the highest quality and greatest relevance to the airport industry.” As a key step to achieving this strategic priority, ACRP is developing a series of research roadmaps in several topic areas. The goal of these research roadmaps is to identify gaps in knowledge and practice, uncover opportunities and challenges, and outline and prioritize specific research ideas needed to address these gaps.

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With the airport industry's introduction and early adoption of safety management systems (SMS), safety processes are taking on a more proactive way of doing the business while continuously improving safety. This shift in approach will drive safety research in the near and long-term future.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Web-Only Document 50: Research Roadmap on Safety Issues reveals evidence of this shift, with input from the industry clearly indicating that more detailed guidance on, and the sharing of lessons learned regarding the elements and processes falling under the SMS umbrella, is needed.

Two supplemental files accompany this web-only document, including a Safety Research Topics Database and a Visual Research Roadmap.


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