What Are Roles in Aviation Safety Management Systems
Aviation SMS roles are used to organize different responsibilities in your aviation safety program. Each role in your SMS will have separate responsibilities. SMS roles are assigned to each of your employees.
You should develop roles in the very beginning of starting an SMS. Roles provide significant benefit by helping you:
- Define expectations of different types of employees;
- Provide guidance to employees for what is expected of them in the SMS; and
- Control access to information.
Once defined and established, roles should be:
- Mapped out in your safety org chart;
- Included in your safety policy; and
- Assigned to each employee in your company.
Employees may have more than one role if they fulfill more than one set of duties in your organization, such as having the Confidential Manager role and the Safety Manager role.
Essential and Important Roles in Aviation Safety Management
Essential roles that you will see in every aviation service provider’s aviation SMS are:
- Accountable Executive role;
- Safety Manager role;
- SMS User role;
- Confidential Manager role;
- Data Entry role; and
- Subject-Matter Expert role (usually called Department Head role).
Important roles you are likely to see in nearly every safety management system include:
- Investigation Team role;
- Safety Team role;
- Vendor role; and
- Safety Committee role.
Investigation Team Role in Aviation SMS
Every SMS will need to perform safety investigations on some reported safety issues. Depending on the size of the organization, it’s extremely useful to designate a role that is responsible for assisting in these investigations. This role has the following characteristics:
- Held by a trusted employee or someone on the safety team;
- Assists safety managers/department heads in performing internal investigations on:
- Safety inspections
People in this role should have good people skills as they will be interacting with employees while conducting investigations. They should also have good analysis skills to use during investigations.
Safety Team Role in Aviation SMS
Nearly every aviation service provider benefits from having a safety team. Only very small organizations probably don’t need a safety team. Employees in a safety team may have other duties in small organizations. In large organizations, they may be dedicated safety team employees.
The purpose of this role is to assist the safety manager in safety efforts, such as:
- Disseminating safety information;
- Helping write safety newsletters;
- Helping manage safety issues; and
- Doing safety documentation.
A safety team member will have other roles that are particular to an organization, depending on the responsibilities laid out by the organization.
Vendor Role in Aviation SMS
Organizations will collaborate with third parties, such as vendors. These vendors, while not directly part of your organization, affect safety in your operations. They should interact with your SMS, and providing them a defined role is useful because:
- Allows you to monitor vendor interactions with your SMS;
- Easily communicate your expectations of vendor involvement in your SMS; and
- Document employees vs vendors.
By assigning a collaborate a vendor role, you can designate specific responsibilities required by your organization.
Safety Committee Role in Aviation SMS
Many aviation service providers use safety committees to do things like:
- Assess safety issues;
- Review safety issues;
- Create corrective actions; and
- Manage certain types of issues.
A safety committee role allows you to create groups of employees who are responsible for carrying out committee actions.
Final Thought: Industry Specific Roles
Industry specific roles should also be included in your role configuration. For example, an airline might also include roles such as:
- Ground crew;
- Maintenance; or
- Air Traffic Control.
Each type of industry will have different types of additional roles.
Published November 2018. Last updated in April 2021.