SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

Christopher Howell

Manage global operations for aviation safety management systems (SMS) software that facilitates regulatory compliance, such as ICAO, FAA, Transport Canada, IS-BAO. Manage software engineering support efforts to local Alaska businesses. Assist in design, implementation, testing and documentation of complex, three-tier Windows applications relying heavily upon secure Web services technology.
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Recent Posts

How Your Aviation Safety Products May Offer False Sense of Security

Posted by Christopher Howell on Aug 30, 2018 6:29:00 AM

Success Isn’t Guaranteed

Regardless of the size or complexity of your organization, every aviation service provider recognizes that risk exists in the operation due to the nature of the industry and ever-changing environment. There are no aviation safety products or processes that will totally insulate you from risk.

Every intelligent person recognizes that an aviation safety management system (SMS) will not ensure that you will be more successful. You may still experience loss. This loss may be:

  • Revenue
  • Lives
  • Productivity
  • Business

Are you the type of operator that counts your losses as part of doing business?

Do you have time-tested processes that assure successful operations? Or perhaps you are counting on a combination of factors, such as your "time-tested processes" and an SMS manual or safety database to insulate yourself from regulatory scrutiny?

Over the years, I have seen a problem regarding the adoption of aviation safety products that were designed to increase success.

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Justify Severity of Risk Assessments - Best Practices

Posted by Christopher Howell on Feb 20, 2018 5:33:00 AM

What are Components of Risk Matrix

During the issue management life-cycle, safety managers commonly conduct initial and residual risk assessments on reported issues. In most cases, risk is a combination of both:

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

6 Benefits Running SMS Program in the Cloud

Posted by Christopher Howell on Nov 1, 2017 6:01:00 AM

Cloud-based SMS Programs May Make Sound Business Sense

Have you been considering the risks of moving your aviation safety management system (SMS) up to the cloud? In the past ten years, many aviation service providers have been moving their SMS program to the cloud for various reasons, but most make sound economic and business sense.

In this article, you will:

  • Learn benefits of moving your SMS to the cloud; and
  • See most common questions to ask when considering an SMS cloud provider.
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Topics: Risk Management Software

What is the Part 5 Automation Tool?

Posted by Christopher Howell on Oct 12, 2017 4:00:00 AM

FAA Orders 14 CFR Part 5 for Part 121 Operators

In January 2016, SMS legal requirements went into effect for Part 121 operators. These requirements stem from the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) mandate:

"As of November 23, 2006 States shall require, as part of their safety programme, that an [operator, maintenance organization, ATS provider, certified aerodrome] implements a safety management system (SMS) accepted by the State that, as a minimum:

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Topics: Aviation SMS Database

4 Aviation Business Challenges for Sustaining Your SMS Programs

Posted by Christopher Howell on Mar 24, 2017 6:00:00 AM

Expectations Drive Aviation SMS Data Management Strategies

Since 2006, aviation safety management systems (SMS) have become a high priority for most aviation service providers as they attempt to find opportunities for:

  • revenue growth;
  • increased service offerings; and
  • operational efficiency.

Due to regulatory requirements, SMS program implementations have become one of the most popular discussion points among aviation safety professionals. With exponential growth of safety data, safety managers struggle not to make significant progress in their SMS implementation, but to sustain progress and demonstrate continuous improvement!

In the early years of SMS implementations, regulatory and SMS auditors have relatively low expectations from service providers. As years pass, these SMS auditors become more sophisticated. Subsequently, their expectations of demonstrable and sustained continuous improvement increase.

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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

Safety Management Systems - Aviation SMS For Small Operators - It's Coming

Posted by Christopher Howell on Feb 22, 2017 6:07:00 AM

SMS Trend Developing Aimed at Smaller Operations

Some countries (Australia and soon Canada) now require even the smaller aviation service providers to participate in safety management system (SMS) activities. This creates multiple challenges for these non-complex operators.

For starters, there is high resistance to change in the cultures of these non-complex operations, most of which never experienced severe losses, such as fatalities or complete loss of aircraft. By their very nature, when a smaller operation suffers a severe accident or incident, it typically obliterates the service provider's business.

Very small aviation service providers need basic, simple to use SMS tools and most of today's popular aviation SMS database solutions have become too complex and feature-rich for these smaller operations.

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Topics: Risk Management Software

Why Zero Accidents Hurts Motivation for Aviation SMS Programs

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 16, 2017 6:09:00 AM

Aviation Manager Likes Zero Accidents

A safety manager from Southeast Asia contacted me out of the blue asking questions relating to key performance indicators (KPIs) and how to create them.

Instead of recreating the wheel and spending an hour outlining best practices for KPIs in aviation SMS programs, I sent him one of the best online resources for aviation KPIs. "You can find everything you need on that page," I told him. "If you need anything else, just let me know."

As is customary in our company culture, I signed the email, as "Always glad to help," which if you know us, you know we are sincere.

A few hours later, this same safety manager asked my opinion regarding:

"In some organisations that I used to work, one of the Safety KPIs that Senior Management team has to be responsible is Zero Accident[sic] at the workplace. This emphasizes the importance of safety."

Warning bells rang out. A tactful response was necessary, yet how should I answer?

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Topics: 4-Safety Promotion

Understanding Aviation Risk Management Workflows - It's the Details

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 5, 2017 6:01:00 AM

Aviation Risk Management Software Frightens You

One of the most frustrating and perhaps frightening aspects of learning sophisticated, full-featured risk management solutions is the complexity and understanding the workflow. How does it work?

  • User reports an issue;
  • Somebody gets notified by email;
  • Another person looks at the report;
  • Somebody does the risk assessment....

STOP! It doesn't make sense. Slow down and talk to me like I'm a fourth grader.

Alright, I'm here to help you understand some basics and hopefully make you a better consumer of aviation risk management software. And while you become a better consumer, I'm hoping you'll become a more effective safety manager.

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Topics: Risk Management Software

Understanding Offline Hazard Reporting in Aviation SMS Programs

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 3, 2017 6:01:00 AM

Everyone Understands Hazard Reporting

Every aviation safety professional has heard of hazard reporting in regards to aviation safety management systems (SMS). The intent of hazard reporting goes beyond hazard identification in a true SMS program. Safety managers are constantly urging employees to report any:

  • Accident;
  • Incident; or 
  • Irregularity (which is commonly a hazard).

Hazard reporting forms have evolved from paper-based to the almost ubiquitous online reporting form. From what I've seen, approximately 50% of online hazard reporting forms are directly tied to the aviation risk management database. This is a huge inefficiency, but we'll tackle this in another post.

I'm now assuming you know what a hazard reporting form is. Until recently, I assumed everyone intuitively understood what is an "offline hazard reporting form" and how it relates to their aviation SMS database.

I was wrong. Let's clarify this so you completely understand offline hazard reporting should the topic arise.

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Topics: Risk Management Software

What is Purpose of Aviation Safety Articles in SMS Programs

Posted by Christopher Howell on Dec 22, 2016 6:01:00 AM

Aviation SMS Programs Require Regular Safety Communications

Routine work may dull your alertness.

Careless or inattentive attitudes may soon replace the caution that existed when your job was new and interesting.

Without some periodic reawakening to the ever-present hazards in the aviation environment, lethargy deepens and chances of accidents occurring increases without us even being aware of the risk.

You may not always recognize the importance of recurring safety training. Yet this training benefits us all in many ways.

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Topics: 4-Safety Promotion

Site content provided by Northwest Data Solutions is meant for informational purposes only. Opinions presented here are not provided by any civil aviation authority or standards body.



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