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BYU, GU Research: Room to Decrease "Near Misses" by Airlines
Flying into Salt Lake Valley.

Research on airline near misses by Brigham Young and Georgetown Universities finds there is still room for improvement in the generally very safe industry.  Peter Madsen is an associate professor at the Marriott School of Management at BYU.  He says even though very few errors lead to accidents, studies show pilots or crew members make at least one potentially hazardous mistake on 68% of commercial airlines flights.

“The question on our minds was; ‘do we plateau in safety at this point because we don’t have many accidents to learn from or are there opportunities to learn from other events,” asks Madsen, “smaller events, like near misses?’”

The study identified benign near misses as incapacitation of a flight crew member, software glitches or mechanical quirks in the cockpit, nuisance warnings, false alarms, poor handling of aircraft on touchdown and taxiway congestion. Madsen and his colleagues studied data from 1990 to 2007.

“One great thing about the airline industry is they collect data on near misses," says Madsen, "so it was a great place for us to do the study because we could get the data. In most other industries you can’t get that kind of information.”

Madsen says their findings encourage airlines to expand reporting of the already-successful data collection and remain vigilant about uncovering root causes of any deviation from normal operations. The research was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is published in Risk Analysis

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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