Introduction to Bowtie

How this risk assessment tool works

Bowtie is one of many barrier risk models available to assist the identification and management of risk and it is this particular model we have found (and are still finding) useful.

These pages explain:

  • what a bowtie can be used for,
  • how it can help you,
  • how to go about the methodology and
  • what to look for within a model. 

This information is based on how the CAA has gone about producing their own bowties with assistance from Across Safety and CGE. 

There are different ways to go about a bowtie but we recommend trying different processes to see what works for you.  We hope you can see the benefits in our approach which has been based on the bowtie software BowTie XP.   However the terminology for the bowtie elements can be applied when using other methods to create a model such as on Visio, post-it notes or in Excel spreadsheets. 

The assessment of the bowtie elements which helps in identifying the safety and risk priorities can also be applied without using the specific software – it is all part of the risk conversation to appreciate where those improvement areas are in the aviation system.

If you are part of the UK Aviation industry, you are able to access some starter bowties focusing on the Significant Seven and the relevant risks. These bowties have been jointly constructed by industry experts and colleagues from the CAA. 

Special thanks to those who assisted from:

  • Belfast City Airport
  • British Airways
  • easyJet
  • Gates Aviation
  • KLM UK Engineering
  • Heathrow Airport Limited
  • Manchester Airport Group
  • NATS
  • Swissport Group Services
  • TAG Aviation
  • Thomas Cook

More information about Bowtie models: