Air Travel — Results vs Process
If you're a results thinker, you should feel reassured that 2007 had zero U.S. air travel fatalities for the first time in a long time, the continuation of an apparent downward trend.
If you're a process thinker, you're probably scared to death of a disaster that seems bound to happen. Near misses have tripled, news reports highlight how air traffic controllers are fatigued and overworked (not a good condition for safety).
Thankfully this most recent near miss prompted an “emergency meeting” with the FAA. I hope that leads to real root cause problem solving and prevention instead of blaming individuals. In this case, a controller is being blamed for giving the wrong tower frequency to a flight. How did that happen? Why could that have occurred? Can that be error proofed and prevented in ways other than saying “be careful?”
Fix the process folks, or the results won't continue.
Good results aren't always the indicator of a good process. You can have a bad process and get lucky for a while.
The right process brings the right results. That's true in business, in Lean, and in aviation.
This hits close to home since I flew into Newark on Wednesday. Not one of the near miss flights, but still… a bit scary.