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LOSA Operating Characteristics

What makes LOSA different from other observational methods?

Ten operating characteristics have come to define the LOSA process from other aviation observations programs — developed over many years of collaboration and lessons learned. As the original developers of LOSA, The LOSA Collaborative requires all ten operating characteristics for a program to carry the name “LOSA”.

Frontline evaluations, such as proficiency checks, are not part of LOSA due to the high potential for “angel performance” exhibited by those under observation.  LOSA is about capturing as close to natural performance as possible.  While evaluations and training events can highlight many practical issues, they are not the best sensor for performance when no one is watching.  Peer-to-peer observations are one step closer to allowing frontline workers to perform freely without concern.  

Trust in the LOSA process is mainly dependent on keeping observations free from jeopardy.  LOSA does not record names, dates, or any other potentially identifying information that could result in disciplinary action.

Another element of building trust in LOSA is providing frontline workers with the right to refuse an observation.  Experience has shown that this one action drastically changes the observation environment from suspicion to trust.  Operators will benefit from seeing how frontline workers manage pressures and trade-offs that occur during everyday operations.

Observers are the lifeblood of LOSA.  Observers must be trusted and appropriately trained to be as unobtrusive as possible while collecting quality data.  The LOSA Collaborative has many years of experience in selecting and training LOSA observers. Many observers report that this experience is one of the most valuable and professionally rewarding in their careers.

The LOSA Collaborative formalizes every LOSA with a signed agreement between management and frontline workers that observations will be kept confidential and anonymous.  Often in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), this agreement provides a critical safeguard needed to build trust in the LOSA process and create a non-threatening observation environment.

TEM data capture is the essence of LOSA.  However, this does not mean ignoring other sources of data.  Common elements added to LOSA data collection can include fatigue competency, CRM, or target area measures that can complement an operator’s understanding of TEM performance.  

To ensure confidentiality, LOSA must have a trusted data collection site to eliminate the potential for misuse.  The more comfortable frontline workers feel about data security, the more likely LOSA observers will capture natural performance.

LOSA success requires strict data validation procedures to generate credible findings that operators can quickly act on with confidence.  LOSA data validation’s primary component is called the “Data Verification Roundtable,” where operator subject matter experts meet, review, and validate all threats, errors, and undesired states captured by their LOSA observers.  

LOSA is much more than a data collection program.  Its primary objective is to generate TEM performance targets that operators can rally around in creating an action plan to improve safety and efficiency.  These targets are known as Targets for Enhancement, all of which are empirically driven by LOSA findings. 

Operators implementing LOSA must provide frontline workers with insights gained and, more importantly, how management intends to use these insights for improvements.  It is crucial to close the loop and enhance an operator’s ability to capture even higher quality observations in the future LOSA observations.   

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