Aditya Rathi stands in front of Cessna

Robertson Research Fellow Aditya Rathi Is in It for the Long Haul

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Former ISASI-Robertson Fellow's long-haul safety research lands him consulting opportunity with Delta Air Lines.

Aditya Rathi (’22) discovered early on in his college career about the importance of aviation safety, but it wasn’t until he was on a long flight from Dubai to America to pursue his master’s in Safety Science at Embry-Riddle that his particular focus came into view.

“As an international student, I came from Dubai to America, a 26-hour flight. It was horrific.” He started wondering about the health and safety elements affecting people who were on the job — not those in their seats, with cushions, entertainment and meal service.

Inspired by his nightmare flight, Rathi examined health and safety standards for ultra-long-haul flights, defined as 16 or more hours. His work has identified gaps in regulations by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as best practices to promote health and safety.

That research, made possible by an ISASI-Robertson Fellowship at Embry‑Riddle, has boosted him on his current career trajectory as a contractor supporting Delta Air Lines’ corporate safety management system. His work has the potential to protect the more than 15,000 pilots and crew who fly for the legacy carrier and their passengers.

When pursuing his graduate studies, Rathi chose Embry‑Riddle’s Prescott Campus because of the Robertson Aircraft Accident Investigation Lab, affectionately called the “crash lab,” with its more than 12 simulated accident sites.

“No other university has anything that compares — not even the national investigative organizations have a better crash lab.”

Embry‑Riddle had something else that was particularly attractive to Rathi: a funded opportunity to focus on applied, practical research as an ISASI-Robertson Fellow. Named in honor of Embry-Riddle Trustee Emeritus Harry Robertson, known as the “Father of Crashworthy Fuel Systems,” the fellowship supports applied research in crashworthiness, survivability and accident investigation.

As an ISASI-Robertson Fellow, Rathi gained insights that advanced the university’s safety mission while informing his real‑world research. Working with Assistant Professor Brian Roggow, who teaches Aircraft Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Management Systems, he helped revise the Safety Management System manual of Embry-Riddle’s Part 141 flight school, toward the goal of achieving participation in the FAA Safety Management System Voluntary Program.

“The Robertson Fellowship gave me mentors in Professor Roggow and Professor William Waldock. They deepened my understanding of safety in general, not just in aviation,” he says.

One of those mentors also provided an introduction that boosted his career trajectory. “I was fortunate that Professor Roggow introduced me to Delta’s managing director of Corporate Safety,” he says. “That is how I got an internship at Delta.”

While a Delta intern, he contributed to the safety risk management performance metrics dashboard that allows tracking of quality, health, timeliness and predefined performance indicators.

Now, Rathi is a contractor with the airline, and he hopes to expand upon his graduate research into ultra-long-haul flights. “As a student, I only reached a limited population because of the number of cabin crews and pilots who fly these routes,” he explains. “Having an opportunity to work with Delta, I hope I can incorporate my research.”

As he continues on his long safety journey, he may play a part in ensuring that those ultra-long-haul flights will be a little safer for everyone involved.