Vegetation & Habitat Control

I've been doing a bit of clearing of land at my airport to make way for a new fence. We've had to expand our borders to accommodate those new instrument approach procedures I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Given that the airport is in "the bush", this meant knocking over a few trees to construct the new fence and make the new airside area completely manageable using tractors and mowers. So, we broke out the relatively cute D-6 dozer and set about clearing the new airport boundary and land.

Setting the Standard

This is me coming up for breath. I've been in the deep-end of airport operations for the last 10 months or so and I'm only just getting my head above water. I think (or at least hope) I've achieved a lot over the last couple of months but very little has been blog-worthy. However, over the last week or so, I've been swimming in that lovely little pool called Wildlife Hazard Management. And while I was re-writing my airport's Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, I stumbled across something I thought worthy of a share.

A long time ago, I wrote about integrating wildlife management and safety management with (as always) a focus on risk management. Well, I want to take this a little further.

The Wild Side of Risk Assessment

The crux of my previous post was that the risk assessment of wildlife sits within the risk assessment of safety and that they may use different techniques. The SMS-level might use a standard risk matrix (or not) and the wildlife risk assessment might use a different technique such as the Paton bird risk assessment model.

The Risk Management Process

The two techniques are really just tools within the fairly standard risk management process. As the global standard puts it:


I think that some of this stuff most of us do well but there is a step we've been missing. It's that dark green one - evaluation.

In Practice

Here is how I see most risk assessment processes going:

  1. We identify the risks - in this particular case bird species at or likely to be at the aerodrome
  2. We calculate a consequence and likelihood score for each species
  3. We assign each species to a risk category according to the model used
  4. We treat the risk - we think of stuff to do to address the identified risks

And all that sounds great but there is, to me, something missing. We might very well devise risk treatments that are sound and effective. We might even target those species that appear high up the list (let's call that, risk ranking, which doesn't appear in the standard). But how have we actually decided to do those things?

In Theory

Well, good ol' ISO 31000 defines risk evaluation as:

(The) process of comparing the results of risk analysis with risk criteria to determine whether the risk and/or its magnitude is acceptable or tolerable

and notes that:

(It) assists in the decision about risk treatment

So what are risk criteria? Again, ISO 31000 says that risk criteria are:

terms of reference against which the significance of a risk is evaluated

Damn it ISO, buddy, you went a bit circular there. So what do I think the risk criteria are?

I look to the note above, they guide you in the decision making process. You set up parameters, before hand, that tell you what to do with risk assessed at the various levels you've set.

Here's an Example

I've just put together the risk assessment framework I intend to use at my airport. I'm basing it on Paton but extending it to land animals as well. I describe the calculation of consequence and likelihood and then outline (via a matrix :( ) the calculation of the final risk level.

And then...

I define what must be done for each risk category/level.

Even before I've looked out the door to see what birds I have at the airport. These requirements are now set in stone. It holds me to a standard and allows for variations in the real-world context, which will occur, to be managed in a consistent and almost predictable way.

This standard allows my bosses, my airlines and my team to know what is expected if we encounter a situation where a species is assessed as "extreme" or "very high" or "negligible".

And for me, those standards are:

Wildlife Evaluation Criteria

Applying the Standard

Now, I go and look out the door. I, with the help of a qualified ornithologist or biologist, look at the environmental, operational and historical contexts and come up with a list of species. We score them and categorises them and then we have to do what the above table say we are going to do.

Any species assessed as "extreme" get their own plan (luckily none of them for me at this stage). Those at "very high" get general strategies that target them (for example, I will be implementing a short-grass policy to reduce my kite numbers) and so on.

As things change, I can also change my strategies with confidence as I have a standard to hold on to should I wish to drop strategies or introduce strategies.

And I think this is a good thing. Yes, you might get pinned in a corner and have to act in some cases but that is the point. You will be held accountable anyway and not setting a standard will not protect you if it all goes pear shaped - touch wood.

Like a Comfy Pair of Slippers

After a year away from airports, I couldn't stand it any longer. So, I'm back and this time I'm actually working for an airport operator. As such, I'll be swimming in airport stuff again and as I hit something interesting, I'll post it here. I'll also be posting a few projects I'm working on and a couple of handy hints and tips from time to time.

While I've been away from here, I have been blogging on general, perhaps esoteric, subjects at I've hit subjects like risk assessment, logical fallacies and culture. I'll be keeping that up over there as well as posting airport-related stuff here.

Oh, it's good to be back.

A Change of Scene

As you can no doubt tell, I haven't been blogging much over the last couple of months. The reason behind this is that I went and got myself a new job. Same place but a new role. I'm no longer an aerodrome inspector. Instead, I've moved into a much more strategic role in the Safety Systems Office at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

This new job has left few mental cycles left at the end of the day to put fingers to the keyboard. In addition to this, I'm back working with the whole industry and airports have had to take a bit of a backseat while I get my head around the more general issues facing the industry at the moment.

I am ready to get back into blogging but with my change in job comes a change in focus. I'm much more involved in regulation and risk management on an industry-wide basis now and I'd like to blog on these subjects.

Therefore, I've started a new blog over at The Regulator's Lot.

If you are interested in these subjects and aviation safety in general, please come on over and have a look.

Spending time with our ATC cousins

I only occasionally get to spend time with the ATC community but last week offered one of those chances. My co-facilitator in Jakarta was Tim Abberton, a very experienced "airservices" ATC'er and safety guru and at least half the course were members of the Indonesian DGCA's Directorate of Air Navigation. The combined course was an excellent opportunity for the airport and air navigation worlds to work together as well as compare and contrast their approaches to similar problems. The Indonesian airport/ATC environment is somewhat different to Australia's. They have more towers, three Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) including the government and most importantly, at many of its larger airports, the airport operator and the local ANSP are the same organisation either PT Angkasa Pura I, PT Angkasa Pura II or the DGCA itself.

The fence between airport & ATC in Australia can be hard to scale - some locations appear to coordinate better than others. I often wonder what it would be like if airports had to operate their own tower. It would definitely create a tighter operation but I am fully aware of the economies of scale achievable with a single ANSP.

Anyway, thinking ATC reminded me of this hilarious youtube clip (its really only audio) of a New York Ground Controller having a pretty bad day.


Indonesia, here I come...

I'm off to Jakarta next week to present a workshop on SMS to the Indonesian DGCA's SAG members from their Directorates of Airports and Air Navigation. It'll be my second trip to Jakarta and I'm really looking forward working with the Indonesians again - they are a great bunch of people, very friendly and polite. Anyway, I thought I would share the slides I'll be presenting - just for general interest's sake. I've had a go at translating most of the headings into Bahasa Indonesia using translated versions of their regulations and Google translate. I hope there are no major errors!

Some of the slides haven't converted as they will be shown on the big screen but I'm sure you get the gist.

Update - things rarely go to plan in Indonesia. In this instance, time was short and the direction of the workshop changed to focus on acceptable levels of safety and risk management. I also changed practical exercise around considerably as you can see in my post about it.