Safety - our first priority

Our commitment to a healthy, safe and secure environment for our people and customers.

Our Group Safety Strategy

As an airline, safety is core to all that we do.

Our safety, health and security activities are underpinned by a Safety Management System that is checked by both aviation and Workplace Health and Safety regulators, and supported by comprehensive governance processes that help us monitor and manage performance and risks. 

We encourage our people to report safety and security-related matters, even when they are closely involved and might feel vulnerable to criticism.  

This is supported by policies and procedures to ensure our people are treated fairly under what is known as ‘just culture’. The evidence the just culture approach works well is in the reporting we get – 50,000 reports each year from our people which help us improve the way we work both in the air and on the ground. 

A focus on safety to build a successful business is woven through Qantas’ history from its very earliest days. From realising customers would have to be satisfied the new mode of transport would be safe, to ultra-long-haul routes during World War II, to new engine and satellite technology, Qantas has built a business on technical innovation in safety. 

The Group’s Safety Strategy was developed in 2021 by canvassing the organisation and considering the following medium–to-longer term strategic drivers of safety:  

  • Fleet changes.
  • A global pandemic.
  • The increasing importance of health and wellbeing, for customers and employees.
  • Increased agility and resilience in safety.
  • The rise of ultra-long-haul travel.
  • Better use of our data.

The resulting strategy has four key objectives:

  • Navigating safe outcomes – ensure that key safety risks are identified, we have confidence in safety critical controls and their effectiveness, with consistent application across the Group.
  • Healthier with us – ensure our people and customers’ health and wellbeing is managed throughout their journey with us.
  • Safety leaders – giving our frontline leaders tools to help them improve the workplace and increase control of the key risks which we call our Significant 21.
  • Safety done well, consistently – making sure that our tools, processes and systems flex with the environment we’re working and operating within, and our capability ensures efficient and compliant operations.
Engineers working underneath the wing of an aircraft

Operational safety

The Group has continued to deliver safe aircraft operations through programs such as: 

  • Further improving our management of fatigue: Qantas Group is collaborating with Monash University to develop personalised fatigue management guidance using an app to be used across Qantas work forces, from shift workers to cabin and flight crew. In addition to the research on crew alertness, the Group also has a program of research underway in relation to the customer experience in long- haul and ultra-long haul flying and is testing strategies to improve customer wellness and reduce the effects of jet lag.
  • Further improving technology on board our aircraft: Qantas has always strived to adopt new and emerging capabilities early. This continues with the adoption of fourth generation GPS receiver technology which has advanced capabilities such as ultra-high- resolution display, wide viewing angle for superior readability, modern processing power, faster map rendering and more.
  • Further improving maintenance approaches for our aircraft: Qantas is investing in predictive maintenance systems to place us at the forefront ready for the exponential growth of aircraft system data to enable greater predictive maintenance.
Maintenance work on aircraft engine

People safety

The safety and wellbeing of our customers and people is our highest priority. The Qantas Group’s FY23 performance for Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate and Lost Work Case Frequency Rate was higher than the in the previous year, following  the significant increase in operations. The comparison between FY23 and FY22 injury rates is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. During FY22, reduced operations during the pandemic resulted in lower injury rates,lower hours worked, and some workgroups, that traditionally have high injury rates, being stood down. Injury rates in FY23 were similar to FY19 (pre-COVID-19). We remain committed to minimising the risk of workplace injuries, including those associated with mental health risks.  

This year Qantas has invested in a program that focuses on the positive attributes of safety – ensuring critical controls are present and effective when high risk work is carried out. 

The first risks the program has tackled are Working at Height and Traffic Management. These have been prioritised by data that shows Working at Height has the highest rate of serious incidents and near misses in the Qantas Group over the past five years.  

In line with the evolving regulatory changes regarding psychosocial risk management, a program of work is also underway to ensure Qantas Group maintains compliance and continues to be an exemplar in this space.  

Our Psychosocial Risk Management program seeks to connect the Safety and Human Resources functions, and drive leadership engagement and empowerment, to manage the risks at an individual, team, and organisational level.   

This year, underpinned by a continued drive for collaboration across the various Group businesses, the Group Musculoskeletal Strategy was designed and implemented, with body stressing and manual handling among the highest drivers or workplace injuries. While the program aims to prevent injuries, it also focuses on injury response, early intervention and recovery programs, and supporting people who have experienced these injury types.   

We have also trialled new technologies targeting a reduction in the risk associated with manual tasks, as well as worker fitness and functional assessment. In October 2022 QantasLink Engineering trialled the use of exoskeleton suits, which can provide a 45 per cent reduction in the muscle activity required for manual handling tasks. 

Engineers working on aircraft maintenance

Operational security

The aviation industry continues to face complex threats from individuals and organisations globally. 

Qantas works closely with the Australian Government and overseas agencies, regulators, law enforcement and its global partners across the industry to proactively monitor and manage threats and risks. We are at the forefront of improving security outcomes for customers and employees by operating within a security framework that is proportionate, agile and responsive to changing threats and risks across our network.

Qantas Group Security and Facilitation participates in several domestic and international committees to refine security measures, to plan for and acquire enhanced security equipment, and to establish world best practices in aviation security.

The Group is keenly aware of the risk posed by ‘trusted insiders’ – people who seek to use privileged access provided in the context for doing their jobs to facilitate illegal activities, such as transporting illicit substances. There are multiple safeguards to prevent and detect this activity and on several occasions over the years, we have worked closely with law enforcement to apprehend those involved. During 2021, the Group was vocal in its support of legislation that will enhance these efforts in future.

Together with our government and industry partners, some of the key security improvements in FY23 were:

  • Co-location of the Cyber Operational Centre and the Access Control and Alarm Monitoring (ACAMs) Centre,
  • Improving the way we identify and manage security risk posed by "trusted insiders" – people who have been given access to a business's systems and physical premises, and
  • The establishment of a program framework to replace access control, alarm monitoring and surveillance systems and associated assets at 100 Qantas sites globally.
Laptop on a desk

Cyber security and privacy

Like most industries, the aviation sector is dependent on data, systems and networks and we take our customers’ trust in the security of their personal data seriously.  

Like many large organisations, we operate in an environment of ever-evolving cyber threats, where external attackers are always adopting more sophisticated techniques. 

A number of high-profile incidents over the past 12 months has only underscored the challenges posed by these threats. 

Protection from these attacks — and the potential financial and public reputation implications associated with unauthorised access to the information we hold — is key. 

The Qantas Group is constantly investing in its capabilities as part of its overall cyber security and privacy protection. Similar to the Group’s safety culture of continuous learning and improvement, the Group also undertakes lessons learned analysis from major external cyber incidents and applies these learnings for enhanced cyber and privacy incident response readiness and capability.  

We are continually working to expand employee awareness of evolving cyber security and privacy risks, including through ‘no notice’ simulations, structured training and by embedding a cyber safe culture. This includes articulating clear cyber accountabilities at all levels of the organisation. The need for shared vigilance on cyber issues is supported by formal recognition of employees who demonstrate positive cyber safe behaviours. 

Risk assessments are conducted on relevant third-party suppliers and we work with them to address any material risks identified. Read about our approach to risk management

Across the Group, we are responsible for handling a substantial amount of personal information. Over the past 12 months we have undertaken a review to ensure we only collect and store the minimum amount required as part of our legal requirements. We acknowledge our responsibility to protect and maintain the privacy rights of individuals, and to maintain the security and the value of their personal information. 

There is ongoing investment to improve the resources, processes and technology that will support the Group to effectively address the volumes of personal information that we manage, and to meet both intensifying regulatory requirements and individuals’ rising expectations regarding fair, ethical and responsible data use. The Group data privacy, ethics and governance function assists us to better ensure personal information is handled fairly, ethically and responsibly. The Group is committed to raising awareness of our privacy compliance obligations and to manage our privacy risk by implementing a culture that considers ‘privacy by design’ as a default position when handling personal information. 

Business resilience

In ever-increasing times of uncertainty, the resilience of an organisation plays a significant role in effectively meeting market demands and supporting the delivery of strategy. The business resilience framework assists the Qantas Group in the preparation for, and recovery from, adverse incidents affecting the business and our interests. 

Today’s business environment is characterised by rapid, unpredictable change that brings demands in responding to a variety of challenges. While ensuring the Qantas Group had an effective platform to respond to the consequences of COVID-19, the Group ensured it also maintained a resilience capability to respond to events as we recovered.  

The ability to respond seamlessly to events that impact the Group is fundamentally important in ensuring continued Group operations in the event of a discontinuity of service, mitigating risks, and minimising disruptions to our customers.  

We comply with government and regulatory agencies to integrate risk strategies through a holistic approach ensuring a robust framework is in place to counter any crisis management, contingency planning and business continuity event. 

We’ve overcome many obstacles in our long history and this is because we’ve quickly responded to changing environments and worked hard to produce the right outcome – helped by the resilience of our people and their commitment to the national carrier.  

Group Business Resilience enables the Qantas Group to take a holistic and coordinated approach to crisis management, contingency planning and business continuity. We ensure the safety and welfare of our people, the protection of our reputation and the maintenance of critical services. 

Due to the investments made in resilience, the capability continues to be strengthened through the successful integration of external stakeholders ensuring the Group continues to possess a sophisticated holistic response and recovery system.