Tools Specific to Airport SMS Programs
Let’s talk about airport SMs programs. While there are many overlaps between safety management systems for airlines and airports, each has several distinct needs.
Airport SMS programs have very complex needs, which have a tendency to incorporate many more quality management needs than aviation SMS programs.
So what is special about airports safety management that differs from airline safety management? Here are a couple of the main talking points:
- Traffic flow in an airport is of paramount importance, and the logistics here are complex;
- Stress on issues surrounding amenities (i.e., tenants, cleanliness, etc.);
- Number of quality related duties; and
- Number of routine tasks.
All of these areas are amplified in airports risk management operations. Airline SMS programs tend to have a very acute range of needs. Airports safety programs’ needs generally aren’t as “dramatic” as airlines safety programs, but airports have a significantly greater breadth of requirements, such as:
- Logging duties and other happenings that don’t need to be managed as safety issues;
- Routine security operations that have multiple times per day;
- Large number of associated vendors and tenants;
- Importance of inspections for maintaining daily activities; and
- Managing lost customer items.
Here are these 4 important tools that airport SMS programs specifically need.
Lost and Found Management in Airport Safety-Quality Operations
Airports are busy places. People lose things all the time. Keeping track of lost items and returning them to their owners will set you apart from most airports, and provide outstanding customer service.
Airports are notorious for having very strong reputations, whether those reputations are good or bad. These reputations are so strong that there are popular websites dedicated to ranking and discussing the best and worst airports. Millions of airport customers rely on these websites for information.
When we are talking about quality lost and found management, we mean:
- Customers can report lost items easily, such as on the website;
- Airport employees can easily track lost items;
- Employees can easily manage a great number of lost items; and
- People can also report found items.
How many countless possessions are left sitting in an unorganized back room in airports? Being able to return such items to customers is the fast track to having a good reputation.
Security Officer Checklist
Routine tasks are and should be a major source of concern for all aviation service providers. This is especially true with airports in particular because of the high number of routine tasks needed in airports to maintain safe operations.
Why are routine tasks such a major concern? Because routine tasks quickly and easily cause complacency in the personnel who perform the tasks. As the interval of safe operations increases, the sense of danger decreases. This is a hallmark of:
- Safety drift;
- A hazardous condition; and
- Safety management “slippage”.
Having a web based security officer checklist manager is the best way to ensure consistent accountability. Such a checklist would:
- Be scheduled on a recurring basis;
- Of course, be in checklist format;
- Document on the web (no paper required) that each item was observed; and
- Include method of reporting observed safety concern.
The checklist format is especially important because it is hard to break checklist protocol without lying (i.e., checking a box without actually performing the task). Also important is the web based format, as software provides easy access by both security officers and management, and automates all of the data organization otherwise required in manual format.
Security officer checklists have wide ranging applicability, from security to quality management.
Duty Officer Log
An important difference between airport risk management and airline risk management is that airports include a much greater number of occurrences that need to be logged, but not necessarily managed like a safety concern. These occurrences, which we can call “Loggables,” are important for:
- Understanding quality of customer service;
- Understanding quality of amenities; and
- Establishing SMS relevant trends in airport operations.
A Loggable could be a broken pipe in the bathroom or a lone bag. Basically, a Loggable is any irregularity that is noticeable, and should be accounted for. A Duty Officer Log is useful in this regard for:
- Documentation Loggables;
- Listing and classifying Loggables for data trend analysis;
- Describing these occurrences; and
- Organizing all important, no-management-required, irregularities.
You might be wondering, “How are Loggables relevant to SMS?” The answer here is that unmanaged Loggables can quickly become safety issues.
For example, consider an airport that does not track the number of lone baggage that forgotten/left by customers in the airport. This oversight can quickly become a gateway for nefarious airport activity. When management notices a negative Loggable trend, such as lone baggage, they can quickly take measures to correct it and close the gateway to non-safe operations.
Having standardized airport inspection tools as essential for compliant operations. An airport inspection tool should provide easy to follow checklist for evaluating the following areas of Airports:
- Pavement areas;
- Safety areas (such as construction zones);
- Markings and signage;
- Navigational aids;
- Fueling operations;
- Snow, fire, and ice management;
- Public protection; and
- Wildlife management.
Airports are large complexes with a diverse set of needs. Inspection checklists keep these needs manageable and in view at all times. Maintaining SMS compliance is a top priority, and self-inspections greatly help.
Final Thought: Other Important Tools
There are, of course, other important tools for airport SMS programs. The core tools that airports should also use for safety management are:
- Issue reporting and management;
- Tenant and vendor management;
- Corrective actions management;
- Operational Risk Profile Manager; and
- Data analysis resources.
For more information about developing your airport safety management system, this list of KPIs should significantly help: