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Data Analysis - Safety

Shelby Clark
Cody Dennison
TJ Houze
April 30, 2017

For our capstone project, our group chose to analyze the data from Westminster
Colleges aviation safety reporting form. This data has been anonymously collected from
self-reporting students and instructors since 2013. Now that the reporting form has been used
for several years, we felt that this would be a great opportunity to get a feel for what the data
represents and potentially locate areas of higher safety risk. We were assisted by Dr. Patrick
Veillette, an expert in safety and data collection.

Project Description
As mentioned in the introduction, our project was focused on analyzing data gleaned
from safety reporting forms collected over about four years at Westminster College. During our
analysis, we discovered several things that we were surprised by. For example, we begun by
cleaning up the data. This was essentially removing all the entries that did not have valid
information, or were tests of the system. When all that was complete, we had about 150 data
points to work with. This was an adequately-sized collection that allowed us to get reliable
averages. We continued our analysis by measuring the data in three simplified sections,
referred to as phases of flight. We used Ground, Taxi, and Flight to group the data into
more meaningful wholes. From this information we could see that most of the reported
incidents had an occasional likelihood and a marginal severity. Our group then continued to
build more specific information from the data by measuring what phase of flight most incidents
occurred in over the entire span of data, as well as by each year of reports. Meanwhile, we sent
out a survey to the aviation department to better understand the safety culture of
Westminsters aviation division and how likely people are to report a safety incident they
witness. After speaking with a member of the safety committee for the aviation department,
we made one final measurement, which was finding out how the severity and likelihood of
incidents changed in each phase of flight. We asked Dr. Veillette to assist us in understanding
what our results could mean, and he offered several possibilities and suggestions. Our analysis
will be shared with the aviation department safety committee so that hopefully they can make
some educated adjustments or tweak procedures to raise awareness of some of these risks.

Expert Involvement
For this group project on safety and data analysis, we were lucky enough to have an
expert help us. We meet with our coach personally. Dr. Patrick Veillette was an awesome coach

to have for our project. He has been in the aviation career field for almost his entire life. From
the air force all the way to private corporate flight positions. When he worked at NetJets he
was on the safety board and was the guy that would go through the safety reports, and make
changes to the program. Talking with him about this topic, he has such a vast amount of
knowledge that we couldn't learn everything that he knows but we told him our goal for the
project and he help out tremendously. Our goal was to find out how accurate Westminsters
aviation safety reports are, and if the reporting process could be improved to be more accurate,
and so more students would fill them out. We went ahead and made a survey that we sent out
to all aviation students to take and get their inputs on the safety reports. Not that many
students actually took our survey. However though we wanted to act on our findings and help
improve the process of the safety reports, and the overall safety of the program. So when we
went to Dr. Patrick Veillette with this he said that's normal, he showed us that in every situation
where surveys and safety reports are anonymous and not required a vast amount of people
will not take the time to fill them out, and the people that do fill them out you have to take
what they are saying with a heavy grain of salt.
While working with our expert in the field, he showed us that in good aviation flight
departments they have safety reporting programs set up with companies like HFACS. These are
companies that have detailed safety reporting forms that are filled out by the pilots and then
this company HFACS will analyze those reports and find out the causes for the incident. Then
they will recommend the proper actions that should take place so that the incident doesn't
occur again. The problem for us in the training world though is that these forms are long and
take so much time to complete that students won't want to fill them out. So something like
what HFACS would not work at Westminster, but shorter safety reports do. We just have to
know that they aren't going to be as detailed and that what the students put in them have to be
taken with that grain of salt because the report might not be exactly reliable.
Talking with our expert about analysing data he went on and on we kind of had to pull
him back because there are so many different ways of doing it. He helped us with organizing
our data we had gathered from the safety reporting forms though and showed us the best way
we could get the info from the forms that we needed. Then we put that info into charts that
could be read and understood easily to present to the class.

Class Activity
For the class activity, our group organized a speaking opportunity from Dr. Patrick
Veillette. Dr. Veillettes extensive aviation portfolio ranges from the Air Force to corporate
flying. Because of his extensive knowledge and experience, he has been a part of many safety
cultures throughout his career.
In his lesson, Dr. Veillette went over different types of safety culture in the aviation
career field. The lesson showed each student how data analysis of aviation safety culture is
easily flawed and biased. Most of the time the data that safety management needs is not

recorded due to it being considered non essential information. We believe that the class
activity helped the Capstone class meet the criteria of analyze and interpret data because of
the helpful information Dr. Veillette gave us. His first recommendation is that when you are
looking over the data, look for trends. If you can find a trend then you can solve and a problem
before it becomes an accident. Secondly, he taught us that when looking at data. Look at it with
a grain of salt. Reports can become skewed by the ones reporting it, mostly because they do
not want to get in trouble. Lastly, he taught us that when taking surveys on safety culture you
need to use the data as a supplement to the hard data that you have collected. People's
opinions of safety culture usually don't line up with the facts about it. Such as in his example of
the smoke jumpers. After experiencing multiple aviation accidents in the smoke jumping career
field, a safety management personnel gave a survey to the smoke jumper aviators. In the
survey they all felt as if the safety culture was fine and safe. However, the data and history
obviously showed the opposite. In conclusion, Dr. Veillettes lesson taught us how to interpret
data better.

What we Learned
One of the first lessons that we learned while working on the project, is the difficulty in
getting answers on a safety survey. Trying to motivate college aged students to take a survey in
general is difficult. After asking our coach on recommendations, he stated that in his aviation
history it has always been a challenge to get people to reply to safety surveys. Another thing we
learned is how skewed the data can be from a safety culture survey. He recommended that in
the future to try and stay away from taking surveys, or at the very least dont use it as hard
Another lesson that we quickly learned is how hard it is to compress data and make it
understandable to the common student. Using excel was a blessing, however the process was
still a difficult and time consuming task. Data collection is easy, but making it understandable
was another story. It is possible though it you put enough time and effort into it.

How we Worked Together

Overall our team worked excellent together, we each did our own parts and in the end it
all worked out excellent. First I will start off by saying that I had an excellent group. We all get
along very well and can think together and agree on the same things. In the beginning we broke
our project up into pieces that we each had to do so in the end it would be fair and equal
amounts of work being done.
Shelby, had the task of making a survey and getting people to take it, then going
through the data he gathered and making sense of it and getting it organized so that the group
could use it. He also helped get all the initial safety reporting forms that westminster students
filled out so that our group could analyse them. Shelby worked well with the rest of the group
and made a large contribution to the team.

Cody, had the task of taking all of the safety reports that were gathered and going
through them. He had to put the reports into 3 different categories and read through each one
to determine what category they fell under and how severe they were. After going through all
the reports he had to talk to Dr. Patrick and set up a meeting with him and to schedule a time
for his class presentation.
TJ, had the task of making all the charts and graphs and using the computer software to
display our findings. He took all of the data that was collected from the surveys and that we
found from analysing the safety reports and made them into nice charts and graphs. Also he
made our power point slide show for the presentation. He was a great team player and helped
out alot.
In the end we all did our parts and the entire project wrapped up nicely, we feel like we
all did our fair share of work and we hope the class has learned from our project as well.