SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

Doug Walker

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How to Optimize Risk Management Processes for Aviation SMS Programs

Posted by Doug Walker on Dec 1, 2018 5:51:00 AM

What Is an SMS Risk Control Process?

A risk control process for an aviation safety management system (SMS) entails a series of risk management tasks that are executed whenever:

  • Hazards are identified;
  • An event has occurred (accident, incident, irregularity); or
  • An audit finding is uncovered (internal as well as external audits).

The risk control process offers a step of repeatable tasks to bring risk to ALARP (as low as reasonably practical). These risk management tasks may not always be sequential, meaning that some tasks may be worked on simultaneously or some tasks may have to be repeated.

What follows are some best practices to consider when developing or reviewing your aviation safety management systems risk control processes and optimizing the information flow to the rest of the organization.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

From Reactive to Proactive Hazard Identification in Aviation SMS

Posted by Doug Walker on Nov 30, 2018 5:42:00 AM

Proactive Hazard Identification Saves Lives

Every aviation operation endures varying levels of risk, depending on ever-changing environmental conditions.

The operating environment never remains constant.

No two operations are identical.

Certain factors will always interject uncertainty and risk into the operation, including:

  • Human;
  • Equipment; and
  • Environmental.

There are times when pilots and maintenance personnel need to determine in advance whether the operation they are about to undertake involves inordinately high levels of risk. Aviation service providers should deem it critical for both asset protection and risk management best practices to establish a review process for certain types of operations.

Here we'll explore the benefits of proactively identifying hazards and why many managers don't like to incorporate flight risk assessments into their daily operations.

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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

How to Review Aviation Safety Policies for SMS - Free Checklist

Posted by Doug Walker on Nov 29, 2018 4:53:00 AM

Aviation Safety Policies Require Review, Didn't You Know?

Safety managers are busy people. After all, they are constantly ensuring documentation is appropriately managed for the four pillars of the aviation SMS.

It's easy to let something slip by if there are no mechanisms in place for quality assurance for your aviation safety program.

What does it mean by reviewing the aviation safety policy? How is this done? Do I just slap another date on the bottom? What do auditors look for when reviewing this requirement? These are a few questions we'll seek to answer. Also, we will provide a free checklist for you to either:

  • Start your SMS safety policy; or
  • Review your safety policy against an exceptional safety policy requirements checklist.
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Topics: 1-Safety Policy

What Are the 4 Pillars of SMS?

Posted by Doug Walker on Nov 1, 2018 9:56:00 AM

Four Pillars or Components Make a Tough Topic More Digestible

When the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) required a formal safety management system (SMS) implementation by aviation service providers in 2006, they didn't simply pass a ruling. ICAO offered guidance material for SMS implementation in Document 9859, now in the third edition.

All aviation safety management professionals should read Document 9859 at least once. It is surprisingly easy to read.

The best part about this "Safety Management Manual" is that the authors took a very broad and complex topic and broke it down into four components or pillars of an SMS. These four pillars were then broken up into twelve elements.

In this blog article, we'll review the four pillars and most of their elements. We'll also sprinkle in some free downloads, such as templates and checklists to help new safety managers.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

The Five Elements of ICAO's Safety Policy and Objectives in SMS

Posted by Doug Walker on Oct 22, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Why Review Safety Policy & Objectives in Aviation SMS Programs?

Aviation safety managers are hard driven professionals. They are results driven.

In most aviation SMS programs, the bulk of the daily work revolves around the second and third ICAO pillars:

Let's face it, the other two pillars are not that sexy. Most aviation SMS programs focus on the first ICAO pillar heavily during their initial SMS implementation.

The bulk of SMS audit findings come from the first SMS pillar, "Safety Policy & Objectives."

In this article, we'll discuss the elements of the first ICAO component.

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Topics: 1-Safety Policy

How to Comply with Regulation (EU) 376/2014 - Aviation ECCAIRS Reporting Compliance Software

Posted by Doug Walker on Oct 1, 2015 8:15:00 PM

Required Mandatory Reporting System Compatible with ECCAIRS

Aviation safety management systems (SMS) are required almost universally for:

  • Airlines;
  • Airports;
  • Aviation maintenance organizations;
  • Flight schools; and
  • Manufacturers.

To comply with these requirements, aviation service providers need modern tools to manage the mountains of SMS documentation that is generated by their SMS programs. ICAO also recommends in their SMS guidance materials that structured aviation SMS databases should be used to collect reports "to facilitate necessary analysis."

Safety managers within the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) jurisdiction are more than a little anxious about the upcoming Regulation No 376/2014. Their concern is whether their existing safety databases will conform to EASA's requirement for ECCAIRS compatibility.

ECCAIRS Compatibility May Cost Tens of Thousands $$

For most aviation service providers, this places an undue burden on the safety team to restructure their existing systems to comply with EASA regulations. Compliance may run into tens of thousands of dollars. However, there is a less expensive solution. But you better move fast to comply.

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Shape Your Corporate Vision with Aviation Safety Goals and Objectives

Posted by Doug Walker on Oct 1, 2015 10:00:00 AM

The Power of Safety Goals on Shaping Aviation Safety Culture

Goal-setting is required for every ICAO-compliant aviation SMS program. The objective of goal setting is to

  • Improve an airline or airport's safety performance;
  • Shape organizational safety culture, which
  • Contributes to the bottom line.

There is not a defined method to guide safety managers in goal setting. Every safety manager has their preferred strategies for goal setting. Their methods are commonly based on available tools and the SMART acronym.

If you are not familiar with SMART goals, the concept states that goals should be:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Attainable;
  • Realistic; and
  • Timely.

Safety goals and objectives have the powerful ability to set a vision to all employees at an airline or airport. Safety managers must carefully choose and word their safety goals in order to send the right vision to the organization. Safety goals have incredible power to shape your safety culture and wrongly worded goals may send a conflicting message to employees.

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Topics: 1-Safety Policy

From Reactive to Proactive Risk Management in Aviation SMS Programs

Posted by Doug Walker on Sep 29, 2015 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.

But there is always room for improvement because when a large aircraft splatters on the tarmac, hundreds of lives are jeopardized.

Safety managers are constantly challenged with moving their airlines and airports from a reactive culture to a more proactive risk management culture. But in order to make this transition, they must first overcome some very large hurdles.

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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

Performing Vendor Safety Assessments for Aviation SMS Programs

Posted by Doug Walker on Sep 24, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Understanding Vendor Safety Assessments in Aviation SMS

Vendors and contractors play a large role in today's aviation industry. It is common for aviation service providers to employ the services of a dozen or more vendors to help the operator fulfill their mission. These vendors or suppliers may include:

  • Aviation fuel providers;
  • Ground handling services;
  • Aircraft maintenance; and
  • Parts suppliers.

A typical safety assurance (third ICAO pillar or component) function for safety teams is to conduct safety assessments on their vendors' safety programs.

Safety assessments have become a very important part of most aviation safety management system (SMS) programs. It is important for safety managers to remain conscious of the overall objectives of safety assessments in order to not miss out on opportunities to identify safety improvements.

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Measure Aviation Safety Performance in SMS Programs

Posted by Doug Walker on Sep 22, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Why Do We Measure Aviation Safety Performance?

Aviation safety managers are tasked with a safety assurance element labeled "Continuous Improvement." Not many aviation SMS training courses go into much detail about "Continuous Improvement" which leaves many safety managers confusedly scratching their heads.

Safety Assurance is the third ICAO component or pillar of an ICAO compliant SMS framework. Annex 19 - Safety Management and the four components are described in detail in ICAO's Document 9859.

The effectiveness of any implemented SMS program cannot be determined whenever it is not measured. The SMS program's safety measurement process must be able to:

  • Define;
  • Develop; and
  • Implement processes to determine and measure key safety performance indicators.
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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

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