Heinrich's Pyramid Theory as Related to Aviation Safety Thesis

Pages: 7 (2041 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation


The objective of this work is to analyze Heinrich's pyramid theory and identify the major principles good and bad in relation to aviation safety. The paper may be contemporary or historical. The objective is to apply sound safety principles and not personal opinion.

Heinrich utilized statistics in the 1920s in his work as a safety engineer for the purpose of constructing the 'accident pyramid' which describes the relationship that exists between major, minor and no-injury accidents in his attempt to illustrate the importance of the injury potential within the process of prevention of accidents. The pyramid proposed by Heinrich is shown in the following illustration labeled Figure 1.

Heinrich Accident Pyramid

Source: The Knowledge Exchange (2008)

In 1980, the theory of Frank Bird updated Heinrich's theory and did so through surveying approximately 1,700,000 accidents, which he used to devise the 'accident ration' and while this is not identical to Heinrich's pyramid, it did demonstrate that the same pattern applied. The pyramid as proposed by Bird (1980) is shown in Figure 2.

Bird (1980)

Accident Pyramid

Source: The Knowledge Exchange (2008)


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The work of Smith (2007) entitled: "The Heinrich/Smith Safety Triangle" relates that the work of H.W. Heinrich, an Industrial Safety Engineer, and who "in 1931 developed a model" which is useful in describing how major injuries and industrial accidents occur, proposed."..for every 300 unsafe acts there are 29 minor injuries and one major injury." (Smith, 2007) Smith states that the model when applied to aviation has a focus on "the antecedents to the accident" and has two additional layers added to those proposed by Heinrich, which are categorized as: (1) unsafe acts; and (2) pilot qualifications. The following illustration shows Heinrich's model expanded as stated by Smith (2007)

TOPIC: Thesis on Heinrich's Pyramid Theory as Related to Aviation Safety Assignment

Heinrich's Pyramid Theory (Expanded for Aviation Safety by Smith, 2007)

Source: Smith (2007)


The work of Ananyan and Goodfellow (2004) entitled: "New Capabilities of PolyAnalyst Text and Data Mining Applied to the STEADES Data at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that the 'proof-of-concept' demonstration is "part of the FAA Office of System Safety and the Global Aviation Information Network (GAIN) Working Group B's (Analytical Methods and Tools) efforts to facilitate and promote the use of automated data and text mining tools in the aviation community for improving overall flight safety performance." Additionally stated by Ananyan and Goodfellow (2004) is the fact that aviation safety experts hold that accidents are "usually a culmination of a series of unsafe events that have gone unnoticed. For every accident and major incident that is thoroughly investigated, there can be as many as 300 minor events that could have contained some information about the impending event. " (2004) Because of this the aviation industry has invested significant amount of time toward the collection and collation of aviation safety information from various sources. Participating organizations in this initiative include: (1) FAA; (2) GAIN Working Group B; (3) Megaputer Intelligence; and (5) the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Ananyan and Goodfellow (2004) relate that the 'PolyAnalyst' is a text and data mining system that makes provision of capabilities in the range of "data importing, cleaning and manipulation, to visualization, modeling, scoring and reporting." This system has the capability of accessing stored data in "major commercial databases and some proprietary data formats, as well as popular documented formats." (Ananyan and Goodfellow, 2004) Additionally PolyAnalyst offers "a selection of semantic text analysis, clustering, prediction, classification algorithms, link analysis, transaction analysis and visualization capabilities." (Ananyan and Goodfellow, 2004) the results derived through use of PolyAnalyst serves to make provision of specific key insights into various aviation processes and assist safety officers and analysts with the following: (1) Reveal hidden issues (irrespective of data type - structured or unstructured); (2) Generate strategic overview charts for management; and (3) Identify bottlenecks in processes and highlight aircraft part quality or part supplier related issues. (Ananyan and Goodfellow, 2004) the study reported in Ananyan and Goodfellow (2004) states the following primary objectives of the analysis conducted through use of PolyAnalyst: (1) Periodically determine an industry-wide list of important current problems and trends; (2) Monitor trends and patterns related to known issues of high importance or high risks, such as TCAS related events; (3) investigate causes, consequences, risk factors and other patterns related to the discovered group of most important events; (4) Track performance and industry acceptance of selected policies and technologies; and (5) Compare new events and patterns to previous analysis periods, identify key trends, and predict future developments. (Ananyan and Goodfellow, 2004)


It is reported that the process of safety data analysis contains three primary steps: (1) Problem areas identification; (2) Analysis for causes, consequences, trends and patterns; and (3) Results summarization and reporting. (Ananyan and Goodfellow, 2004) Reported, as the primary challenge of the current process of analysis is the reliance on manual processing of data. Individual challenges include:

1) Proliferation of text data;

2) the descriptor system;

3) Third party classification using descriptors;

4) Recent changes in the system of descriptors including:

a) old system confusion;

b) challenges with the new system; and mapping between old and new systems;

5) Unexpected patterns and trends;

6) Creating and testing hypotheses; and 7) Summarizing analysts' findings in reports. (Ananyan and Goodfellow, 2004)

The project is stated to have demonstrated that value is generated through:

1) using the software to extend the analytical capabilities beyond the existing classification system;

2) efficient use of analyst's time for many tasks;

3) automation of repetitive processes;

4) Quick, intelligent analysis of textual data; and 5) Consistent and comprehensive use of both structured and unstructured data. (Ananyan and Goodfellow, 2004)

Ananyan and Goodfellow (2004) state that the entire process of safety data analysis is split into five major steps at IATA:

1) Data preprocessing;

2) Safety report categorization;

3) Problem areas ranking;

4) Discover of trends and patterns; and 5) Report generation.

Dictionaries developed in this data text mining initiative included: (1) list of abbreviations and other unknown terms; (2) List of frequently encountered terms that are synonyms within the aviation field; (3) List of stable phrases in aviation field; (4) list of airport codes and navigational fixes. (Ananyan and Goodfellow, 2004)

The work of Isaac et al. (2002) entitled: 'Technical Review of Human Performance Models and Taxonomies of Human Error in ATM (HERA)" relates a report in a three phase research initiative concerning "...how human errors in Air Traffic Management (ATM) can be analyzed to improve safety and efficiency in European ATM operations." (Isaac et al., 2002) Additionally stated is that fact that human error is a major contributor to ATM incidents, with some reviewers suggesting that the human error contribution is the order of 90% or more. Most industries have similar human error numbers of aircraft movements' everyday without a major incident hand so the ATM system is in fact very reliable." (Isaac et al., 2002) the stated focus of this study is "to increase knowledge and understanding of human performance mechanisms and the human errors with which they are associated." (Isaac et al., 2002)

Analysis of the various: "...facets of the situation and trying to understand the mechanisms and context which led to the error." (Issac, et al., 2002) Historically, automation of processes has been focused upon by the aviation in terms of diligence in safety. Therefore, this use of the numbers in calculation of the three levels in Heinrich's pyramid theory, automation is easy analyzed because it is analyzed in terms of numbers and a process of data collection and analysis. Therefore, ensuring the high safety performance of safety means measure of the automated tasks and yet additionally has a human factor within the analysis and that of human effect upon the processes affecting automation. Isaac et al. (2002) goes on to state that Air Traffic Management (ATM) is currently: "...under pressure as traffic levels increase. Airspace in many parts of Europe is already complex and congested and there is also pressure from the airlines, which are under strong competitive commercial constraints, to optimize routes and timings. These issues lead to complexity and time pressure on ATM operations that can subsequently lead to errors. Additionally, many ATM systems are currently being upgraded and developed into 'next generation' systems, which include computerized displays with new functionality and computerized tools. There is also the prospect in the near future of the introduction of datalink technology, which will significantly affect the method of operation in ATM. These major shifts in work practices will affect both controller and pilot performance, and new opportunities for error could arise, particularly in the 'transition period' during which new systems and practices are introduced. These developments suggest that the ATM system is at the beginning of a long period of significant change and evolution, a period that will possibly see increased error rates and potentially new errors. This indicates a need for the development of an approach… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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