Bowtie method helps analyze off-airport landing risk

Jen Boyer HAI at Work

Photo: iStock/PhilSigin

Jan. 25, 2021

HAI@Work webinar explores a valuable visual risk-assessment tool.

Off-airfield landings can be unsettling. Rather than taking place at an airport, they can occur anywhere from a mountaintop to an offshore helipad—locations that are less controlled and, therefore, riskier than a conventional landing site.

One risk-management tool that’s especially helpful in identifying and mitigating the risk involved in using off-airfield sites is the Bowtie method, the topic of HAI’s Jan. 21 HAI@Work webinar. The panelists for the discussion were three experts in the use of the method: KB Solutions CEO Kodey Bogart, AeroDirections President Gerald Kosbab, and AeroDirections Director of Operations for Latin America Jorge Sánchez Hidalgo, who joined the event from Ecuador.

Taking its name from the shape of the diagram it employs, the Bowtie approach originated in the oil-and-gas industry and was adopted by the aviation industry in Europe. Today, the method is becoming popular in global aviation. It is taught four times a year at the US Department of Transportation’s Transportation Safety Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and is used by HAI in planning aircraft arrivals at HAI HELI-EXPO®.

In a nutshell, the Bowtie method is a visual tool that clearly calls out hazards, threats, consequences, and controls that are developed and put into place to mitigate risks. It labels controls based on their potential effectiveness, helping safety managers and others clearly identify and lessen risk.

“Bowtie is a proactive technique,” Kosbab told webinar participants. “By being proactive, we can look at the hazards and threats. We can then develop controls for mitigation.”

Bowtie also fosters increased trust between the collaborators involved.

“The Bowtie approach is ideal for developing a safety case or risk profile to submit to clients or a regulatory authority,” explained Sánchez Hidalgo. “It creates a framework of collaborative risk management between all participants. Together we ask, ‘Can we make these controls work?’ This kind of conversation really spurs collaboration.”

Attendees of the webinar were shown:

  • What information to gather prior to producing a Bowtie diagram
  • How to properly build out the diagram
  • How to use the diagram to increase collaboration between stakeholders, including clients
  • Examples of diagrams used in real-world helicopter operations.

For a more in-depth look at Bowtie and how to use the method for increased risk mitigation and collaboration in your organization, watch the video of the webinar in its entirety.

Please join us on Jan. 28 at 4 pm eastern for our next HAI@Work webinar, “Anatomy of a Mishap.”

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