SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

Tyler Britton

350,000 words and counting on safety risk management concepts, guidance, tools, and best practices.

Recent Posts

How to Make Your Aviation SMS Implementation Adaptable

Posted by Tyler Britton on Jun 5, 2019 6:00:00 AM

A Hot Word in Aviation SMS?

As airlines and the aviation industry, in general, continue to eclipse safety records year by year, a nagging question begins to crop up with increasing vigor:

To what end?

The thought of endless safety improvement is daunting for any aviation safety manager. And endless improvement is totally unrealistic, though it often feels like the pressure from up top is to strive for just that – an impossible goal.

New technologies will emerge in the aviation industry with increased safety potential, but will also drag along a closet of skeletons that the aviation safety management system (SMS) will have to deal with. People will always be people. And change will never cease, which leaves room for aviation SMS implementations to continually improve operational safety.

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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

7 Best Aviation Lagging Indicators in Aviation SMS

Posted by Tyler Britton on Jun 3, 2019 6:08:00 AM

What Are Lagging Indicators in Aviation SMS?

Lagging indicators are an extremely important element of system performance monitoring in aviation safety management systems (SMS). Safety professionals and the accountable executive should become familiar with lagging indicators as these managers are responsible for regularly reviewing organizational safety performance and detecting substandard safety performance.

Lagging indicators show the historical performance of your aviation SMS implementation. They answer 3 essential questions about safety in your risk management program:

  • What safety events are happening?
  • How many safety events are happening?
  • Where are safety events happening?

These questions can be broken down further to ask specific questions about safety performance. Understanding historical safety performance is a prerequisite for identifying underlying causes and leading indicators in your aviation SMS implementation.

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Topics: Key Performance Indicators

How to Get Employees Participating in Safety Reporting - Aviation SMS

Posted by Tyler Britton on Jun 2, 2019 6:04:00 AM

A Reporting Culture Is a Just Culture

Workers’ participation in aviation safety management systems (SMS) comes down to one word: reporting.

When workers are reporting, it demonstrates three things:

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Topics: 4-Safety Promotion

Is Root Cause Analysis Proactive or Reactive?

Posted by Tyler Britton on May 31, 2019 5:45:00 AM

What Is Root Cause Analysis in Aviation SMS

If you put 10 safety managers in a room and asked them what root cause analysis was, they would have ten different answers.

Safety professionals all say that they perform root cause analysis at sometime during their risk management process. In their own minds, that’s probably true.

But root cause analysis for one safety manager would not necessarily be root cause analysis for another manager. This is because there is neither a standard and accepted definition of what root cause analysis nor a standard process of performing the root cause analysis, such as doing:

  • 5-Whys Analysis;
  • Fishbone Diagram Analysis; or even the
  • SHELL model.
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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

4 Pillars | How to Conduct Safety Performance Monitoring and Measurement

Posted by Tyler Britton on May 30, 2019 5:55:00 AM

What Is Safety Performance Monitoring and Measurement

Safety performance monitoring is an essential component of aviation safety management systems (SMS). And by “essential,” performance monitoring is like your SMS implementation's immune system.

When performance monitoring is not handled well, your safety program will wither. Worse yet, your operating certificate may be in jeopardy.

Do you know what performance monitoring looks like?

SMS performance monitoring basically involves ongoing (real-time) collection of safety data metrics that indicate the health and progress of an aviation SMS implementation. It is also used to ensure that key safety goals are achieved.

Safety performance monitoring and measurement is an element of the Safety Assurance Component of the Four Pillars of SMS.

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Know If Your Aviation Safety Management System is Working

Posted by Tyler Britton on May 29, 2019 5:55:00 AM

How to Prove Your Aviation SMS Is Working

Proving to stakeholders that your aviation safety management system is working is simply a matter of showing that the primary goal of SMS is being achieved - namely, that:

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Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

How to Use Shortfall Analysis to Identify Aviation SMS Failures

Posted by Tyler Britton on May 28, 2019 6:07:00 AM

What Is SMS Shortfall Analysis?

In every aviation safety management system (SMS), the accountable executive is responsible for ensuring the SMS is properly implemented and working across the entire organization. In order to fulfill this responsibility, accountable executives and their safety teams need tools to identify and address substandard safety performance.

Despite the fact that many risk management tools provide great insights into how and why safety incidents occur; there have been no dedicated tools for answering the following question:

  • Where did the SMS risk management processes fail?
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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

4 Considerations About QMS and SMS in Aviation Safety Management

Posted by Tyler Britton on May 26, 2019 5:56:00 AM

Making Decisions about QMS and SMS in Aviation Safety Management

Recently, there has been a significant rise in the interest of reducing data management complexity and increasing synergies by integrating quality management systems (QMS) and safety management systems (SMS) in the aviation industry. This is probably because many aviation service providers have already begun or have well developed SMS implementations.

Alternatively, the interest may result from the overwhelming number of data management systems that modern aviation service providers use to manage operations. Operators recognize that aviation SMS compliance is dependent on the collection, storage and retrieval of SMS data that spans many years. In many cases, operational quality data will intersect SMS data, thereby causing management to realize that there may be some opportunities to improve operational efficiency and reduce data management burdens.

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Topics: Quality-Safety Management

Signs of Good KPIs in Aviation - with Free KPI Resources

Posted by Tyler Britton on May 25, 2019 6:01:00 AM

What Is a Key Performance Indicator in Aviation SMS?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are data metrics used to track performance in aviation safety management systems (SMS). This “performance” was not intended to measure only safety, but also quality and financial performance as well.

Understanding what is a key performance indicator is an essential component of being able to identify signs of good KPIs.

Here are the 4 most important things you need to understand about what KPIs are (ideally), and how KPIs are used in aviation SMS:

  1. KPIs directly reflect performance of company safety goals and objectives;
  2. Key performance indicators show only the “key” data – the most important data for operational performance;
  3. A KPI is always SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound); and
  4. KPIs are organization-specific, which means every organization will have a unique list of KPIs, as well as many shared industry-relevant key performance indicators to compare performance across their industry.
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Topics: Key Performance Indicators

4 Pillars | Most Important Elements of Change Management in Aviation SMS

Posted by Tyler Britton on May 23, 2019 6:01:00 AM

What Is Change Management in Aviation SMS

Since November 2006, most commercial aviation service providers  have been required to implement formal aviation safety management systems (SMS) to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) mandate.

These operators must develop and maintain a formal risk management process for identifying hazards and implementing needed changes in their operational environments to help reduce risk to acceptable levels. These changes usually effect existing services and operations; however, new service offerings or operation types will trigger the need to initiate a change management project.

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Topics: 2-Safety Risk Management

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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