Using Safety Key Performance Indicators in Your Aviation SMS
Most aviation safety professionals today are managing their aviation safety management systems (SMS) using automated tools. These full-featured database tools allow safety managers to easily classify issues according to many criteria.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) allow upper management to measure progress on important operational elements. Without properly chosen key performance indicators, management would be buried in a mountain of data.
Safety performance indicators (SPIs) at airlines and airports are the same as KPIs. Professional risk managers in other disciplines prefer the term KPIs. How you choose
KPIs for your airline or airport is dependent on several variables, including:
- Type of classification system;
- Seasonal effects;
- Organizational pain points.
Here are some examples of how many aviation safety professionals choose to manage KPIs. Below are free download resources that may help your SMS:
- Monitoring Safety Performance
- Aviation Key Performance Indicators
- Customizing Classification Parameters for Aviation Risk Management
Selecting Effective KPIs for Your Aviation SMS
SMS auditors will certainly visit your operation and ask how you choose your KPIs. Airline safety performance indicators require careful consideration and should be managed as a team. Best practices to choose KPIs for compliant ICAO SMS typically include these considerations:
1. Type of Classification System to Group KPIs
- Types of issues (safety, security, quality, compliance, environmental);
- Root Causes;
- Locations (geographical or functional, such as flight ops, ground handling);
- Hazard Register;
- Policies or Procedures; or
- Aircraft parts (or ground vehicle parts).
2. Seasonal Effects for Choosing KPIs
- Time of Year (hurricane season, winter, etc);
- Tourist season;
- Football season (heavy traffic in many areas, or increased violence);
- Fishing season (increased specialized luggage & coolers);
- Religious pilgrimages;
3. Current Pain Points at Your Airline or Airport
- Employee injuries;
- Customer Injuries;
- Damage to Equipment;
- On-time departure; or
- Customer complaints.
Related KPIs in Aviation SMS Articles...
- Choosing Key Performance Indicators in Aviation SMS - With Free KPI Resources
- 3 Best Tips Selecting Aviation SMS Key Performance Indicators
- 6 Sources for Aviation Key Performance Indicators
Final Points to Remember about KPIs
KPIs can change! Don't expect to set KPIs and walk away from this task. Our seasonal operating environment and civil aviation regulatory environment changes. You will need a simple way to change your KPIs as time progresses.
KPIs must be continuously monitored. Don't create them and forget them. Keep an eye on them because KPIs are the important elements in your safety program.
KPIs must be easily accessible by ALL managers at your airline or airport. Properly managed KPIs offer valuable insight into the health of your aviation SMS and organizational progress.
Use KPIs in setting aviation SMS and organizational goals and objectives! If you cannot measure it, how can you fix it?
Using SMS Database to Manage KPIs
I have never seen a sustainable process to successfully document, monitor and track KPIs without the use of a database. There are simply too many moving parts and related data stores.
Unless you have a centralized SMS database, your hazard analysis data may not reside in the same system as your hazard reporting and auditing databases. All three data stores hold valuable data to detect trends that are most likely associated with your KPIs. Unless you have a sustainable process to monitor your KPIs, you will never likely detect developing trends before they have run their course. We can help you with a best-in-class SMS database.
Post originally published in June 2015. Last updated December 2018.