Dhaka : Airbus Safety Promotion Centre, located near the entrance to the planemaker's plant in Toulouse, France was opened in February 2023, with a view to reminding its employees of the developments in commercial air transport safety and the dreadful consequences of mistakes. The purpose behind the state-of- the-art facility is to encourage a deeper personal engagement of Airbus' employees with safety and to cultivate an accident prevention mindset.
Nicholas Bardou, Product Safety Communication and Crisis Response Advisor of Airbus, said this while briefing a group of Bangladeshi Journalists, who were taken around the centre during their recent visit to Toulouse, France.
According to Tim Roach, Head of Safety Promotion, Airbus, "The Airbus Safety Promotion Centre is a dedicated space where the visitor is immersed in the safety lessons learnt and messages that show the evolution of flight safety, how we make safe aircraft, and the importance of working together to enhance safety. It is not only for people with technical or flight operations responsibilities. Safety is everyone's business and we all have a role to play."
In the aviation industry, hard-won reputation and faith in carriers, built over a decade, can easily be lost unless constant and immovable vigilance is not maintained. Even though accidents remain rare, still carriers must educate and encourage new recruits while reminding the senior ones of the overriding need for constant attention. That is where a dedicated safety education, awareness and training facility like the European plane manufacturer's Safety Promotion Centre comes in. It provides staff with a high-level focus to learn from past mistakes.
The centre is themed into three parts-one shows the evolution of flight safety, the second highlights how the company makes a safe aircraft and the third presents how vital cooperative efforts are to enhance safety with audiovisual displays, wall charts and hardware. The displays include timelines of notable aircraft accidents since the very beginning of jets, divided into standard ICAO categories such as Loss of Control in Flight, runway incursions and CFIT, with advances in technology, training and operations overlaid showing how major accidents have prompted changes and increased safety over the years.
Nicholas Bardou, Product Safety Communication and Crisis Response Advisor, Airbus, with a group of Bangladeshi Journalists at the centre during their recent visit to Toulouse, France-Photo: Monitor
Further along stands a separate chart that highlights fatal accidents on Airbus-made airlines and flight test aircraft. It is said, till date, 3,456 people have died on Airbus aircraft. Another display shows how the latest 'Generation 4' airliners with FBW envelope protection, such as the entire Airbus family, but also including the Boeing 777, 787 and Embraer E-Jets have improved flight safety even further by reducing CFIT. There is an interactive virtual reality demonstration at the centre that allows visitors to see and experience new safety enhancements by putting them on the flightdeck of an Airbus A350.
Meanwhile another display educates visitors on the accident investigation process, the timeline and the need for confidentiality. In the safety department at Airbus, there are accident investigators too, ready to deploy 24/7 around the globe as 'Go-Teams' to support customers or regulatory authorities in the event of an emergency. However, Airbus's support is not only limited to when things go wrong but also includes annual safety conferences, publications (Airbus Safety First) as well as crisis exercises.
Among the most interesting displays, one is the "black box". A flight recorder which is an electronic recording device placed in an aircraft for the purpose of facilitating the investigation of aviation accidents and incidents. The device may often be referred to colloquially as a "black box", they are now required to be painted bright orange, to facilitate their recovery after accidents. As seen at the facility, the most advanced black box at present could even eject automatically from the plane before a crash, so that it does not get destroyed in the accident and rescuers can later find it.
The biggest single display is given over to a chunk of Engine Alliance engine casing, which fell from an Air France A380 over Greenland in 2017 after an uncontained failure. The search for this debris from AF66, which involved satellite imagery, sniffer dogs and 3D scanning from this (non-fatal) incident and recovery from the ice, is a case study in how the aviation industry rigorously looks to determine the cause of every accident and literally will go to the end of the world for answers. Other displays also highlight the ecosystem of safety and how the different parts of the company work together to build safe aircraft - from design, testing, certification, production, and maintenance.
Also, there is a meeting space and coffee station at the centre, themed as an airliner cabin, available for employees to come and talk about safety with their managers and peers and to reflect on the exhibits. Airbus wants its employees to revisit some of the darkest moments in the company's history, in an effort to arm them for the future.