Big Data equals big success for Singaporean

by John Guselli
July 13, 2018
Singaporean big data award investigators
Mordern aircraft are capable of capturing vast amounts of data. Photo: Steve Creedy

Some big ideas on Big Data have won a Singaporean Air Force officer studying in Australia a prestigious international award.

University of New South Wales final-year Aviation Management student and Republic of Singapore Air Force officer Ian Low looked at ways to capture and store complex data generated by aircraft during normal and abnormal operations.

Low ’s paper, titled “Big Data – Thinking Big for Aircraft Accident Prevention”,  focused on the concept of managing large volumes of complex and diverse data required to capture and analyze aviation safety information.

This technique has been used successfully by major airlines to improve on-time performance, increase fuel efficiency, and manage maintenance requirements.

The paper offered a new paradigm for aviation safety – a proactive data-focused approach to accident prevention.

It offers an alternative quantitative approach to accident investigation that could analyze all available information, not just the factors which are obvious to accident investigators, This could result in investigators uncovering other accident causal factors which may have otherwise been overlooked.

Low was awarded the Rudolf Kapustin Memorial Scholarship for 2018 by the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI).

He has maintained a high distinction average throughout his studies and has previously been awarded the RSAF Academic Scholarship from the Singapore government.  He served 10 years as a military officer and is a qualified Sea Hawk helicopter pilot, specializing in aviation safety.

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The Singaporean’s award honors the memory of Rudolf Kapustin, a former senior investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board who oversaw the agency’s investigation of major air disasters until his retirement in 1986.

Kapustin was an investigator in charge in the NTSB’s aviation division and senior member of its quick response “go team,” a rotating group of specialists who travel to the stark and grim sites of civilian aircraft crashes.  He passed away in 2002.

The purpose of the Rudolf Kapustin scholarship is to encourage and assist college-level students interested in the field of aviation safety and aircraft occurrence investigation.  It is funded through donations.

It requires students to be enrolled as full-time students in a recognized education program, which includes courses such as aircraft engineering, operations, aviation psychology, aviation safety or aircraft occurrence investigation. Applicants must have major or minor subjects that focus on aviation safety/investigation.

This award provides for funded attendance at an ISASI Annual International Seminar and a one-year membership to the ISASI.  In addition, Low will receive tuition-free attendance at the highly regarded Cranfield University Safety and Accident Investigation Centre, at its five-day Accident Investigation course, at the Cranfield campus, north of London, UK.

A further prize of a tuition-free course is also provided by the United States Government’s Transportation Safety Institute as well as tuition-free attendance to any scheduled Southern California Safety Institute course in the US.

John Guselli is the past Chairman of the Reachout Committee of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators. Further information is available at