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Uncertainty, Black Swan, safety management systems, safety assurance, naval aviation
Overrun accidents continue to occur despite the good intentions of those involved in identifying and managing risk. Our ability to predict and prevent accidents that “can’t happen” must depend on our willingness to look for the possibilities in what our conventional ways of seeing assure us are failure-proof systems. In 1968 astronaut Frank Borman said it was a “failure of imagination” that led to the Apollo I fire. Today, as economic pressures work to squeeze more capability from our airplanes, pilots, and runways, the question remains not “could a runway excursion occur” but “will it be our inability to imagine risk that contributes to the next runway accident”? This paper will focus on the different ways risk can be measured as well as how the nature of randomness can influence our perceptions of safety. By examining the interrelated effects of probability modeling, safety assurance practices and current policies and regulations a new definition of safety hazards and mitigations will be defined.