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

FAA Part 5 - Safety Assurance - You May Not Be Prepared

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 16, 2019 5:58:00 AM

Regulatory Phrases May Pack an Incredible Punch

When I was in school, both high school and college, English composition professors would frequently remark on my ability to use very few words to say a lot.

I always took this to be a compliment, but there is a severe limitation to my writing style. From my point of view, why use ten words when one will suffice. Communication (according to my taciturn personality), should be:

  • Short;
  • Concise; and
  • Quickly moved to the next topic.
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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Define Your Risk Matrix in Aviation SMS

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 14, 2019 5:41:00 AM

What Is Risk Assessment in SMS

Risk Assessments in aviation safety management systems (SMS) are how you qualify, quantify, and rank risk exposure for:

  • Reported safety issues;
  • Audit findings and concerns; and
  • Risk scenarios (consequences) associated with identified hazards.

Risk assessments are absolutely central to decision making in SMS, as all actions performed on the safety issue depend on the initial and subsequent risk assessments. Risk assessments are based on your risk matrix. How well you define your risk matrix sets the stage for critical safety events in your risk management processes.

How do you define your risk matrix? What problems will an ill-suited risk matrix cause you?

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How Top Management Kills Aviation Safety Culture - With Examples

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 13, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Managers Drive Employee Actions Toward Safety Programs

I am guessing that every accountable executive you speak to will honestly profess to support their aviation safety management system (SMS). After all, the alternative would be that top management only cares about making money and not doing everything reasonably practical to improve safety.

Signs that top management doesn't support their safety program include:

  • Withholding budgets from safety departments;
  • Not participating in safety meetings; and
  • Not giving safety managers enough "face time."

But there are other ways that executives damage their aviation safety cultures.

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Topics: 4-Safety Promotion

From Reactive to Proactive Risk Management in Aviation SMS

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 12, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Proactive Risk Management a Dream for Many Aviation Safety Programs

Historically, aviation safety management strategies relied predominantly upon reactive risk management principles. For example, a critical part would break or an accident occurred, and managers would then attempt to determine the root cause and fix the issue.

In a perfect world, aviation service providers will lean toward a more modern proactive, organizational-based methodology to avert serious accidents before they occur. By looking at Boeing stats, commercial traffic is very safe, with greater than 99.999% accident-free rate.

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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

Best Tip for Safety Assurance Monitoring in Aviation SMS

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 10, 2019 12:36:00 PM

Safety Assurance Monitoring Activities - Third ICAO SMS Pillar

Most safety managers immediately recognize ICAO's four pillars:

An interesting aside is that many Americans believe these four pillars were FAA's idea. Does your eyebrow raise at our arrogance or ignorance?

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

Steps to Learn Who’s Reporting Issues in Your Aviation SMS

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 9, 2019 5:02:00 AM

Why Knowing Who Is Reporting Hazards Is Important

Monitoring which groups of employees are reporting issues in your aviation safety management system (SMS) allows management to stay abreast of who is involved in the SMS.

Alternatively, knowing which employees are neglecting to report hazards is also useful information to SMS professionals. This would indicate that safety promotion efforts or SMS training efforts need to be reinforced.

In short, we are most interested in which particular user groups are not fulfilling their responsibilities to the SMS. These employees introduce unnecessary risk to aviation operations.

How do you know which employee groups are not participating in the SMS? Can you determine this easily? We have some ideas to stimulate your SMS.

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Use Trending Charts in Aviation SMS

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 7, 2019 6:02:00 AM

Using Trending Charts in Aviation SMS

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

How Aviation Safety Managers Can Improve Safety Reporting Cultures

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 4, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Safety Reporting Remains Core to Aviation SMS

Participants of healthy aviation safety management systems (SMS) enjoy trusting relationships between management and staff. The goal for organizational success without sacrificing safety and employee welfare is actively promoted and accepted by all.

A systemic problem exists in our aviation industry in that an alarming number of aviation service providers have substandard corporate safety cultures.

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Topics: 1-Safety Policy

Why Should We Implement Aviation SMS?

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 2, 2019 3:43:08 PM

Resistance to Aviation SMS

Considerable numbers of aviation managers in the United States and a few other countries groaned when ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) mandated that most aviation service providers implement formal aviation safety management systems. Americans, by nature, are rebellious against government involvement in commercial activities.

These recalcitrant aviation managers saw no added value in implementing highly structured safety management programs because they already had the safest flight operations in the world (in their minds anyway).

Furthermore, most commercial operators already possessed elements of a safety program. Additional risk management initiatives seemed to increase costs and add no additional benefit in reducing risk and protecting assets. In this article, we will discuss why you should implement an aviation SMS at your airline or airport. We'll not to repeat the obvious "it's a requirement," as this argument adds little value to demonstrate the true value of aviation SMS.

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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

How Safety Managers Increase Their Power in Aviation SMS

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 1, 2019 4:13:29 PM

Effective Use of Power in Aviation SMS

Safety managers at airlines and airports around the world are charged with implementing required aviation safety management systems (SMS). SMS implementations affect entire organizations and not simply a single department, such as:

  • Flight ops;
  • Ground ops; or
  • Maintenance.

Everyone at your organization must be on-board the SMS train, otherwise, you will continue to receive findings whenever the SMS auditor visits your organization.

Safety managers have a universal problem. They must serve as change agents and sell SMS principles to others who are not buying into "this latest fad."

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

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