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Doctors/Dr. BASSE Diaga

Dr. BASSE Diaga

Civil Aviation Engineer and Operations Manager at ASECNA (Aviation Safety Agency for Africa & Madagascar)


Air traffic control in an age of high reliability organisations: what key factors for safety in air traffic control at ASECNA?

Air traffic control consists of ensuring a safe, expeditious and orderly flow of flights by setting up at any time a volume of safety to each aircraft on the ground or in the air. However, the safety margins required between aircraft may be broken, thus compromising flight safety. This quasi-accident situation is described as a serious incident or "airprox". For such situations, it is mandatory for the pilot or the air traffic controller to file a report in order to determine contingency factors and to take corrective measures to remedy the causes of such malfunctions.
This doctoral thesis in business management raises the safety issue of socio-technical organizations with a duty of reliability and aims to answer the research question: "how to explain the serious incidents in ASECNA air traffic control centers?" (ASECNA being the air navigation service provider for a total of seventeen African countries). The literature review has made it possible to describe the different paradigms of safety in the field of air transport and to highlight the two great scientific schools of thought on the topic. This is the school of "normal accident" theory and the supporters of high reliability organizations (HRO). Our ontological positioning focuses on the current HROs whose principles appear most appropriate to meet the needs of a flexible organization focused on safety such as air traffic control.
After adopting an analysis grid based on the James Reason model and collecting all airprox that occurred in ASECNA air traffic control centers from 2014 to 2017, we classified the different types of airprox and determined the most significant explanatory variables. In light of the results obtained, managerial recommendations aimed at improving flight safety were formulated. These relate to a dynamic reorganization of work, the implementation of air traffic flow and capacity management, ASECNA airspace global surveillance coverage by ADS-B, and the automation of air traffic controller tasks.

Keywords: Airprox, Control center, Traffic flow, HRO, Means of surveillance, Aviation safety.