Safety and Security

A Culture Of Customer Service

At American, the safety and security of our employees and customers is our top priority. We continually seek ways to enhance programs, systems and processes, and work in close cooperation and collaboration with governmental and industry agencies. We depend on all employees — from senior management to individual ground and flight crew members — to remain vigilant and adaptable so that we can successfully address the ever-changing global security climate and fully leverage the flight and customer safety processes and technologies we have in place.

Safety Oversight at American

Our safety team is responsible for administering our corporate Safety Management System throughout the organization. The team analyzes the overall safety performance of our maintenance and inflight operations and is working toward the development of a Fatigue Risk Management System to mitigate pilot fatigue.

In 2011, updates to our Safety Management System (SMS) for American Airlines resulted in critically improved processes for:

  • Inflight safety procedures
  • Data collection
  • Safety and security training

Increased stringency in these areas has yielded tangible results for customer and aircraft safety at American. In 2011, we safely transported more than 100 million customers to their final destinations without a serious incident.

Achieving FAA Certification

Through the evolution of our SMS, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been an indispensable partner in helping to identify safety and security issues. The FAA has introduced an SMS pilot project, in collaboration with many U.S. airlines including American, to identify industry best practices for implementation of safety management systems. This voluntary project establishes four levels of SMS to facilitate ongoing improvements.

In 2011, American Airlines moved to Level 2 SMS implementation for all operational departments. It is our goal to advance all departments associated with our SMS to Level 4 certification in 2012.

FAA SMS Certification Levels
Level 1: Complete a detailed gap assessment — comparing actual safety procedures with the objectives of their SMS – and then develop an action plan to address key shortcomings.
Level 2: Document SMS processes; initiate confidential employee reporting; provide SMS training for staff directly involved with SMS process and initiate training to other employee groups; apply Safety Risk Assessment to at least one known hazard; and update the gap assessment and implementation plan.
Level 3: Demonstrate that all SMS processes and procedures have been applied to at least one existing hazard. Complete all employee training on SMS.
Level 4: Continuously improve SMS processes. Refine predictive analysis to prevent unintended consequences from safety hazards.

Ensuring Flight Readiness

In 2011, the FAA released updated flight crew duty and rest requirements, aimed at minimizing incidents associated with pilot fatigue. The new rules, which will go into effect within two years, create a workday time limit for pilots depending on the type of flight and time of day a flight begins. A minimum rest period of 10 hours between shifts will be imposed, an increase of two hours over the previous minimum.

The new rule also includes a provision that allows airlines to develop a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS). FRMS provides an airline with an alternative way of mitigating fatigue based on data and methods validated by the FAA and continuously monitored.

In an effort to draw the best possible safety benefits from this new legislation, American hired a fatigue risk manager in 2011, whose role is to develop and implement the FRMS. Many of the components of FRMS have already been initiated at American, including a fatigue policy, reporting system, education program and Fatigue Review Committee.

In 2012, our goal is to fully implement FRMS in preparation for approval by the FAA. Implementation will ensure the proper management of risk associated with pilot fatigue, and will position American to take advantage of the provision that allows carriers to fly outside of the prescriptive rules for Flight and Duty Time using FRMS.

Partnering With Homeland Security

While it is imperative that we do all we can to ensure a fully secure travel experience for our customers and crewmembers, we also understand that customers deeply appreciate efficient and respectful screening procedures at security checkpoints. To this end, American and American Eagle collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 to conduct testing of new security screening methods at our key hubs.

  • Pre-Check and Known Crewmember — These risk-based security screening initiatives offer selected crewmembers and frequent travelers the option of expedited screening. Originally available at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Miami International Airport (MIA), these programs will be expanded to additional U.S. airports in 2012. American was one of two carriers to pilot test this program.
  • Global Entry (GE) — Frequent American Airlines international travelers re-entering the United States can participate in the U.S Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. American has promoted GE participation through various marketing campaigns targeting over 900,000 potential customers in 2011 in an effort to improve the international arrival experience.
American is also coordinating with the Department of Homeland Security to reduce travel interruptions caused by lengthy waits during the customs clearing process. In 2011, American expanded its Express Lane at all U.S. international gateway airports. Customers at risk of missing their connecting flights are given a card that grants them access to a special passport clearance lane, and allows them "front of the line" access to clear TSA security screening.

Focusing On Dangerous Goods

Many items are regulated by the Department of Transportation as Dangerous Goods due to their potential inflight risk if not handled properly. Managing the transportation of Dangerous Goods is an interdepartmental effort, bringing together insights and expertise from environmental, security and logistics professionals within our company. In 2011, American's Dangerous Goods department was expanded to have greater management-level representation.

Department initiatives in 2011 included:

  • Focused efforts on ensuring all Dangerous Goods are properly declared
  • Further automated required pilot notification of Dangerous Goods shipments to enhance safety and facilitate compliance with regulations
  • Worked with regulators to develop policies and procedures that ensure the highest level of safety without impeding the transport of Dangerous Goods

Many common items have the potential to be dangerous due to leaks, fumes or fires caused by temperature and pressure changes experienced during flight. Read more about items that are restricted for travel, or that must be declared to the airline prior to flight.

Responding To Disasters And Emergencies

In 1993, American Airlines established its Customer Assistance Relief Effort (CARE) to provide compassionate, professional support and act as a liaison to passengers and families affected by aviation incidents, natural disasters and other emergency situations. The CARE program is made possible by a dedicated base of American Airlines and American Eagle volunteers who may be called upon, at any time, to assist with relief efforts around the world. With more than 1,260 volunteers speaking more than 50 languages, CARE has grown consistently since its inception, and has provided support to thousands of disaster victims.

In 2012, we plan to make further investments in the CARE program:

  • Demonstrate corporate emergency response capability and preparedness by conducting small- and large-scale corporate emergency exercises, including collaborative drills with oneworld® alliance partners
  • Expand recruitment efforts for the CARE team through regional workshops and engagement with Employee Resource and Diversity groups
  • Enhance internal communication and visibility and increase training opportunities by expanding the use of computer-based training

Ensuring Passenger Health And Safety Onboard Our Flights

In the event that customers experience medical emergencies during flight, we are ready to step in and provide immediate care and assistance. While the majority of customers and crewmember injuries we encounter are minor – typically associated with turbulence while moving around the cabin or sitting without seatbelts – we are prepared for more serious health and safety incidents such as cardiac emergencies. In 1997 American was the first U.S. airline to install Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) on its overwater aircraft fleet, and to provide lead flight attendants (Pursers) with training on how to utilize this state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment. To supplement onboard safety equipment and training expertise, American maintains a medical advisory staff, available 24 hours a day, to provide remote consultation to flight crews encountering emergency medical situations.

Every year these emergency preparedness measures save lives, and to honor those involved, American Airlines presents Golden Heart Awards to employees who assist customers in need with the use of an AED. In addition, the American Spirit Award is presented to Flight Attendants who demonstrate exemplary performance in cabin safety, medical and security events. These situations require critical thinking and quick reaction while simultaneously demanding professionalism, leadership and teamwork to avoid loss of life.