As we approach the anniversary of the first occurrences of Covid-19 related lockdowns, we are still left speculating on when there will be a return to what we might have considered “normal”. The rapid rollout of several different vaccines is encouraging, but the emergence of new, potentially more virulent and dangerous variants, brings further uncertainty and there are doubts as to whether things will ever be the same again.
A year on, and many people and organisations have found through necessity, the need to adapt and evolve to working within governmental constraints as a kind of “new normal”. The SCSC is no exception, and has now run two successful online seminars covering new safety analysis techniques and the management and oversight of complex systems respectively. You can find reports of these seminars in this edition on pages 40 and 45, and a further Seminar on developments in Safety Culture is planned for April this year (see page 28). The stage, albeit a virtual one, is also set for the first SCSC Symposium (SSS’21) to be run online, and is entirely free to SCSC members (see www.scsc.uk/sss for details).
The SCSC Working Groups have also been active in assessing the impact of Covid-19 and as well as a dedicated Covid-19 Working Group now under Peter Ladkin’s lead, other groups such as Data Safety and Service Assurance have been revising their guidance material to address the novel challenges that the Coronavirus presents in these areas.
It’s been a difficult year for airlines, not least Boeing who have been dealing with the grounding of their 737 MAX fleet after fatal accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia as reported by Dewi Daniels at SSS’20. The 737 MAX fleet is now back in service in some locations, so our first article provides an update to Dewi’s previous work, and asks whether the aircraft really is now safe to fly. It has been a great privilege to work with Dewi in producing this update for the newsletter.
In our second article, Kevin King focuses on the challenges of assuring Digital Twins from a safety perspective. He presents a set of principles, developed as part of his MSc thesis, to support the assurance of Digital Twins in their role in through-life safety assurance.
Pace continues to gather on the technological development of autonomous systems, but are people ready to trust these systems? In our third article, Davy Pissoort discusses a new initiative to develop a training network with the goal of establishing people’s trust in autonomous systems, by making these systems demonstrably safer.
The safety community, and engineers in general, are approaching a retirement ‘cliff’ with a large proportion expected to retire in the next 5 years. The Covid-19 enforced hiatus is, perhaps, only accelerating matters. To address this, we must encourage and nurture the next generation of skilled safety engineers and in our fourth article, Zoe Garstang introduces an exciting new development to do exactly that – the SCSC Safety Futures Initiative (SFI).
Our 60 second interview is with Harold Thimbleby.
Paul Hampton SCSC Newsletter Editor