APAC Forum 2015 highlight: A high-flying example of quality and safety
APAC Forum 2015’s full-day pre-forum intensive courses featured some of the most impressive speakers across healthcare and business. They offered APAC attendees a rare chance to get an in-depth look at these global leaders own innovations, how they were achieved, and what attendees can take back to their organisations and systems.
Hosted by Air New Zealand across two locations: their Operations Centre and the Aviation Institute (Airport Oaks, Auckland), their Intensive looked at how this world-renowned airline faces challenges relating to quality improvement, performance, and safety.
Air New Zealand prides itself on quality and safety, and is a multi-award winner hailed as a leader in innovation, passenger comfort, service, and satisfaction. In so many ways they have got it all right.
All delegates started the intensive at the Aviation Institute on Rennie Drive – a fitting venue given that it’s where airline pilots are trained and assesed. The group then split in two with one half travelling to Air New Zealand’s Operation’s Centre on Tom Peirce Drive, where they observed airplane scheduling, planning and montiroing in real time, while the other half stayed at the Aviation Institute until after lunch when they swapped locations.
There were some obvious similarities that could be drawn between the two industries. The factors pertaining to quality oversight, whether in an aviation or healthcare setting, are comparable. Achieving and maintaining quality relies on the organisations’ ability to excel in:
• Recruitment (with an emphasis placed on “hiring for attitude”, where technical competencies are met, and any outstanding skills are taught);
• Consistency of delivery (achieved via thorough training);
• Maintenance and consistency of standards; and
• Creating the correct culture.
Air New Zealand, like many major hospitals, benchmark themselves against similar organisations. And, like in healthcare, they rely on reporting (both lag-reporting and near-miss) to fuel their safety management system.
Air New Zealand has been able to instil an admirable corporate commitment to safety; it’s evidenced in their core values, policies, accountabilities, documentation, and reviews. The absolute importance of safety is stressed at all levels throughout the airline; driven from leadership into behaviours and ultimately procedures.
Like us in our health system, Air New Zealand functions in a complex environment. The scope and scale of their operation is vast. They operate a range of aircraft, from small turbo-prop planes to the large Airbus. The technology varies hugely between aircraft. And their routes range from short domestic trips, flying in and out of high risk zones like Queenstown’s mountainous terrain, to long-range flights reaching across the globe direct to destinations such as London.
The company’s running costs exceed an astounding NZ$100 million per day. Their brand is synonymous with “New Zealand Inc”. And they employ over 11,000 people. Like healthcare, there is risk inherent in what they do. But the major difference lies in their ability to control that risk. In the prescribed and regulatory industry of aviation, Air New Zealand has been largely successful in defining, minimising, and eliminating risks. They are drilled and prepared for disruption, emergency and critical events.
At Air New Zealand they are consciously moving their safety thinking away from the everyday “slips and trips” to the bigger picture in attempt to eliminate critical risks. And they are not just concerned with operational safety; they are placing significant focus on protecting their people too (be it staff, passengers, or the families, friends and colleagues of their passengers).
One example is their approach to fatique – an issue that effects airline and healthcare personnel alike. In the early 90’s Air New Zealand pioneered a fatique risk management system (FRMS), which is now standard across interntaional airlines. Their personnel contribute with self-reporting, and the company take a rules approach to fatique risk management based on fatique science and data. It is seen as a shared responsibility and, again, comes back to having a deeply ingrained safety culture.