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

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

What Is Most Important Question For Safety Performance Monitoring?

Posted by Christopher Howell on Dec 15, 2016 6:01:00 AM

Regulations for Monitoring SMS Effectiveness Are Vague

Effective monitoring of aviation safety management systems (SMS) by regulators and service providers is critical to the protection of:

  • Passengers;
  • Equipment;
  • Environment; and 
  • Reputation of the aviation industry.

Civil aviation authorities (CAA) are required to provide oversight to ensure implementation of aviation SMS programs is performed properly and not merely an exercise to "check the box." Your CAA requires that you monitor the progress and continuous improvement of your aviation SMS program.

Regulations are never specific as to how you are supposed to conduct such monitoring. This has both advantages and disadvantages.

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Use Trending Charts in Aviation SMS Programs

Posted by Christopher Howell on Dec 14, 2016 6:02:00 AM

Using Trending Charts in Aviation SMS Programs

There are several times each year when managers are interested in trending charts coming from their aviation safety management systems (SMS). These times include during:

Trending is perhaps among the most difficult tasks for safety managers when they don't have automated tools and databases to capture hazard reports and to classify these reported issues.

Let's assume you have data. Which questions should you be asking to generate your trending charts?

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

Why Include Vendors in Aviation Safety Programs

Posted by Christopher Howell on Dec 13, 2016 5:55:00 AM

Vendors Are Part of Aviation Safety Programs

New safety managers at airlines and airports have considerable work to perform, including:

Safety managers often become so engrossed in SMS activities that they overlook vendors, subcontractors and business partners. These associated organizations also fall under scrutiny when the SMS auditors come to assess regulatory and/or contractual compliance with SMS requirements.

This article discusses how to involve your vendors in your aviation SMS program and why you should be performing safety assessments on your vendors.

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Topics: Risk Management Software

What Are Main Components of Aviation SMS Program For All Service Providers?

Posted by Christopher Howell on Dec 12, 2016 6:00:00 AM

"SMS" Is Common Term in Aviation Industry

Unless you have been living under a rock since 2006, it is highly likely that you have heard about the required safety management systems (SMS) that were mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Since 2006, the Canadians and Australians have been truly embracing aviation SMS programs. These two countries' civil aviation authorities have consistently delivered the best guidance and oversight to assist a major transformation in how aviation service providers do business.

Since aviation safety management systems apply to small operators as well as larger operators, what are the main components of SMS programs?

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Build Your Aviation Safety Article Training Library

Posted by Christopher Howell on Dec 8, 2016 6:01:00 AM

Recurrent SMS Training Can Be Expensive

For small companies with 20 to 100 employees, it is not feasible to send all employees to aviation SMS training courses. Nor is it feasible to regularly hire an SMS consultant to deliver training to all employees. Not only do you have costs relating to consultants' time and expenses, but also lost revenue due to employees not performing billable services.

In these scenarios, a company can have an SMS training policy that requires employees to read aviation-related safety articles on a routine basis, such as monthly. Another alternative is for employees to read a predetermined number of aviation safety articles each year. Of course, the policy must be documented and for each employee, the number of articles counted and documented.

To take this example further, management could pre-select or recommend articles based on each employee's participation level in the aviation SMS program.

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Topics: 4-Safety Promotion


Best Practices for SMS Programs

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SMS Implementation Videos

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