Mitigating People Risk in the Aviation Sector

November 18, 2020 Aon's Assessment Solutions

Risk runs through the core of the aviation sector. Every day, millions of people travel and, when aviation tragedies happen, they make headline news whether they are caused by human error, terrorism, a safety issue or data breach.

At the Aon Global Aviation summit in 2019, Andy O’Shea, chairman at EASA Aircrew Training Policy Group (ATPG) reported that 70% of accidents and incidents within aviation companies are due to “human factors”. Such a statistic suggests that, if we can better manage the human element, the number of accidents and incident rate will decrease.

Ensuring Employees Have the Right Attributes for the Role

Hiring the right people for specific roles is fundamental to all recruitment. However, it is more critical to those within aviation. Get it wrong, and safety can be compromised. Get it right, and risk levels are mitigated. Behavioral characteristics associated with safety can be assessed early in the hiring process, both online and on a mobile.

Vigilance and mechanical detail

Those working to maintain aircraft need key behavioral characteristics: vigilance; attention to detail; and rule following. Behavioral assessments combined with ability and skill-based tools can help identify those most suited to these roles.

Attention to detail and urgency

Dispatchers and ground team members managing plane loads and baggage handling need to attend to the detail, be able to plan and adapt and also have a sense of urgency while adhering to the rules.
Concentration and adherence to instructions

For employees working in roles (e.g. air traffic control) which require significant concentration and focus, behavioral assessment can highlight those with the competencies to succeed in this role.

Safe driving

For those in driving roles (e.g. ground ops teams) accidents, however small, have significant costs. Predict which candidates are most likely to drive and behave safely once hired by using Aon’s Drivers Suite [link to Drivers Suite webpage]. This uses proven methodologies to help reduce driver risk.

Minimizing Risk from Cybersecurity Threats

Cybersecurity remains a critical issue for all organizations. As well as enterprise-wide systems, technologies and processes to mitigate the risk, individuals play a key role when it comes to strengthening security. This is explored in Episode 4 of our webinar series, Coming Through the Clouds.

In this episode, Kerry Peirse, general manager of IT infrastructure, operations and security at Cathay Pacific Airways, explains the actions the company takes with regard to cybersecurity. The first of three steps is focused on protecting the perimeter of the network and environment - to stop people getting in. The next is to slow down any breach of that perimeter by putting roadblocks in the way in order to delay the breach until monitoring picks it up. The final stage aims to make sure that any information found is meaningless or useless to others.

Reducing Risk from a Dispersed Workforce

Some of the actions to minimize cybersecurity threats relate to very technical specifics (such as multifactor authentication and password protection). The challenge is applying this across an increasingly distributed workforce with a significant number of outsourced partners. The increase in remote working can also be a source for risk. Indeed, the number of endpoints and IP addresses connected across a network has expanded. More endpoints mean more potential points of exposure to cyber risks, potentially compromising the entire network.

Technical interventions help minimize risk. However, there is also the human element to consider. Talent assessment and analytics are able to highlight those more likely to demonstrate unhelpful, risky behaviors.

Hear more about cybersecurity risk in our webinar: Cyber Safety, Aviation Security and the Human Factor. Aon’s David Barrett hosts a discussion with Kerry Peirse, general manager of IT infrastructure, operations and security at Cathay Pacific Airways, Kashif Khalid, regional director of Africa and the Middle East at IATA and Edward Stroz, co-president at Aon Cyber Solutions.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you mitigate the people risk in your business.


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Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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