Safety has benefitted from Meta Data
Much of the information is in SILOed bases
FAA contracts with Plantir to integrate them
The FAA and industry have made great strides in aviation safety relying on the power of BIG DATA. Information drawn, most on a real time basis, from onboard aircraft systems, pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, aircraft certification experts (both FAA and aircraft manufacturers), air traffic controllers, AEG, ASAP, ASIAS, ASRS, ATSAP, AVRS DRS, FOQA, SMS, CAST,PRD, T-SAP,VDRP, and a myriad of other agency databases.
A mass of data, particularly in SILOS, is not very helpful in assessing safety and making decisions. To address that deficiency, the FAA contracted with Palantir Technologies, a software company. The Denver based organization builds enterprise data platforms for use by organizations with complex and sensitive data environments. From building safer cars and planes, to discovering new drugs and combating terrorism, Palantir helps customers across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors transform the way they use their data. This integration will more rapidly and efficiently monitor, analyze, visualize, and share aviation safety data used in their determination of whether an incident presents a past or future safety risk.
For such a critical contract, how do the critics rate Plantir?
Perhaps the most compelling review came from ChromaScope, which opined:
Serious Data Analytics with the Palantir Platform
“Every now and then we feel like children outside a candy store, faces pressed to the window, eying the good things within. Today was one of those moments when we came across a reference to Palantir Technologies’ data analytics platform on TechCrunch and went to investigate further.
Palantir is a data analysis platform which enables the integration of structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources – documents, databases, email communications – and provides the sophisticated tools required to search and analyze it. The company – Palantir Technologies (http://www.palantir.com/)….
Palantir has one of the most easy to use geospatial analysis interfaces we’ve seen. “
June 17, 2021|Updated June 17, 2021 at 7:13 p.m. EDT
The Federal Aviation Administration has hired data analytics firm Palantir Technologies to help stitch together disparate databases to improve the agency’s oversight of aviation safety.
The FAA signed an $18.4 million deal to use the Denver firm’s data integration platform, according to a federal filing. The agency agreed to pay $5.8 million for access the first year, with an option to extend for two more years.
The move comes after the FAA has faced sharp criticism from outside investigators, and current and former employees, after deadly incidents in recent years. Federal officials hope the improved data integration will bring “rapid and efficient” decision-making through “monitoring, reviewing, and analyzing aviation safety data,” according to a June 15 federal filing.
Palantir’s system will pull in large amounts of data, including satellite airplane tracking information, emergency air-traffic control data and numerous written reports on mechanical problems from pilots and manufacturers, according to the company.
In a statement, the FAA said the effort will “integrate data from a number of FAA safety-reporting systems to help the agency quickly identify and address potential safety issues.”
Palantir, which has its origins servicing intelligence agencies[i], has broadened its scope. Clients have included oil giant BP, Fiat Chrysler and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Critics have assailed the firm for providing technology used in Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation efforts.
Shyam Sankar, Palantir’s chief operating officer, said that in using the company’s technology, FAA engineers will be able to spend less time gathering data, freeing them up to search for deeper patterns that can reveal safety concerns.
“I hate to rely on intel analogies, but essentially the challenge here is connecting the dots. The data is there,” Sankar said.
Congressional investigators faulted the agency for “grossly insufficient oversight” after a flawed automated system led to two Boeing 737 Max crashes, first in Indonesia in October 2018 and then in Ethiopia in March 2019. An FAA official said an engine failure on an April 2018 Southwest Airlines flight, which killed a mother of two from Albuquerque, was a “canary in the coal mine” regarding agency oversight.
Congress passed a bipartisan bill in December to strengthen agency oversight, and the FAA has said it is working to implement the new requirements. The agency’s top safety official, Ali Bahrami, is retiring at the end of the month after facing criticism in Congress and from family members of those killed in the two crashes.
The agency will use Palantir’s data-integration platform for work on “continued operational safety,” an FAA term that generally encompasses airline operations, maintenance and production facilities, and safety standards.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson “has made it a top priority to use data across the agency to achieve the next level of safety,” the FAA said in a statement.
 For those who did not recognize the name PLANTIR, it is a fictional magical artefact from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. A plantir is/was an indestructible ball of crystal, used for communication and to see events in other parts of Arda, whether past or future.
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