SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

5 Things You Should Know About Aviation SMS Programs

Posted by Tyler Britton on Apr 7, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Getting (Back) to the Basics of Aviation SMS

It’s easy to get absorbed in the gritty details of complex systems – this is especially true of aviation safety management systems.

For newcomers to the world of aviation SMS, it can seem overwhelming and daunting. For veterans, it’s easy to forget the core values.

For newcomers and veterans alike, reviewing the core principles of SMS can be refreshing:

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

FAA Part 5 Legislation - Professional Criticism - Good and Bad

Posted by Christopher Howell on Feb 26, 2016 6:00:00 AM

 I Hate FAA Part 5 Because...FAA Part 5 Legislation was slow in coming, but did it hit the mark with aviation SMS professionals

A well respected aviation SMS professional made a passing comment to me yesterday that prompts this interesting response. Please note, my thoughts are not always originally my own. This is not saying I'm a parrot, because I consider myself a "thinking" man and have an occasional "original idea."

A bit of background information is in line before I get to the meat.

Actor #1: The protagonist is a career FAA person with a very strong aviation safety background. He is highly educated and articulate. Let's call him "Retired FAA Safety Guy".

Actor #2: The recipient of the casual remark does not have a lengthy career in the aviation industry, but has been active in developing aviation safety management systems (SMS) solutions since 2007. We'll call this actor "cynical SMS professional." Yes, this is me.

The thought provoking remark is centered on Part 5 - Safety Management Systems.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

Discovering Resistance to Boss' Aviation SMS Program

Posted by Tyler Britton on Feb 22, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Uncovering Resistance to SMS Programs

Aviation safety programs are too often seen as the responsibility of the safety department, when in fact, the responsibility extends throughout the entire organization.

Safety managers struggle daily to ensure regulatory compliance is achieved. There are many SMS documentation responsibilities. However, it will be the safety manager who will be the first to suffer when the safety program is failing.

Aviation safety managers should not bury their heads in the sand and hope for the best. Yes, it is the boss' SMS program, but the boss will see it as "your" SMS program.

Here are some tips to help uncover resistance to your boss' SMS program.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

History of Aviation SMS Programs and Four Pillars - With Free Tools

Posted by Tyler Britton on Feb 10, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Overview of SMS History

It’s easy to forget just how young aviation SMS programs are as their own entity. Many of the central tenants of modern aviation SMS programs go much further back in history, but as a cohesive whole, 2016 will mark only the end of the first decade for formally solidified SMS programs in the United States and worldwide.

Tracing the origins of such a colossal system is tough because of:

  • So many different influences;
  • Differing interpretations; and
  • Differing timelines in different countries.

Moreover, it’s clear that in the history of aviation safety management systems (SMS) that there is no specific beginning time, but rather is the subject of an evolutionary process, with various combinations and influences from other management fields, such as ISO 9000's quality management systems. Nonetheless, there are some major waypoints in the 50 years of SMS, from various influences and roots to what we formally call aviation SMS today.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

4 Tools to Find Resistance to Your Boss' Aviation SMS Program

Posted by Tyler Britton on Feb 8, 2016 6:00:00 AM

A Dependable Problem

We end up writing about resistance to change rather often because we see it often. Resistance to change is a rather significant problem every aviation safety management system (SMS) implementation deals with. Judging by the large volume of users who read blog articles about this – perhaps such as yourself – our feelings and observations are spot on.

Resistance to aviation SMS programs is usually more common in younger programs, and the level of resistance is a strong indicator of how healthy an SMS program is. Nonetheless, healthy programs can begin to experience resistance as well, such as

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

FAA Part 5 - Review Management Responsiblity in Aviation SMS Programs

Posted by Christopher Howell on Feb 5, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Daily SMS Activities May Preclude Routine Review

The new year has started. Business activities are beginning to return to full speed. At full speed, aviation safety managers may be putting out fires. These fires may cause safety teams to look continuously ahead, when they should occasionally be looking back.

Aviation safety managers at all stages of their SMS implementations should be monitoring activities relevant to the phase of their airline or airport's SMS implementation.

Regardless of whether your review is many months away or next week, we'll consider two highly important things you should be reviewing regularly.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

5 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your First Aviation SMS Implementation

Posted by Christopher Howell on Feb 4, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Aviation SMS Implementations Take Years To Fully Mature

Safety managers are fresh, fully motivated when starting their aviation SMS implementations.

SMS Implementations are marathons, not sprints. Initially, you will be able to have many short bursts to get you out of the starting gate. These short bursts may be attributed to:

  • Management pressure;
  • Upcoming audits (regulatory or client); or
  • Stage of your aviation SMS implementation.

Regardless of whether this is the first time you have implemented an SMS program, or whether you have participated in others, we hope to share some lessons.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

How Great Aviation Safety Managers Spend Idle Time

Posted by Tyler Britton on Feb 2, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Idle Time Doesn't Have To Be Dreaded

Aviation safety managers are hardworking professionals, and their daily work schedules can be hectic, challenging, and extremely busy. But for many officers – and I’m guessing you may be one of them – there are times when things are pretty quiet.

You suddenly find yourself rubbing your hands together, wondering how to best spend your time.

I’m guessing the general consensus, or default expectation – and one I’m sure most safety managers dread – is to start digging through your organization’s aviation safety policy, and reviewing safety documentation and safety procedures. Maybe because for many SMS managers this is the default expectation, officers will do just about anything they can to not have idle time.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

FAA Part 5 - Understanding Scope of Aviation SMS Implementation

Posted by Christopher Howell on Jan 29, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Ignorance Is No Excuse for Regulatory SMS Noncompliance

Imagine you come to Anchorage to play ping pong at NorthWest Data Solutions' headquarters. You fancy yourself as a pretty good ping pong player, so you are confident that you will not be skunked by NWDS' professional software engineers.

A small problem may arise as you are trying to keep score.

  • How many points are in the game?
  • What is a skunk?
  • Who gets to serve first?
  • How many serves does each person get before switching?

When we installed the ping pong table last year, we all thought we knew the game; however, NWDS' staff are ethnically diverse, coming from:

  • Russia;
  • United States;
  • Taiwan; and 
  • Thailand.

As we started playing, we had to come up with some standard rules and regulations. Let's take this ping pong scenario and apply it to implementing aviation safety management systems (SMS). We will use the FAA's Part 5, which is listed in the Federal Register.

Using Part 5 as our rules, I will tell you why most of you will initially fail to truly implement a fully functioning aviation SMS program as it is outlined by the FAA.

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation

Adaptable And Creative Aviation Safety Management

Posted by Tyler Britton on Jan 20, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Bringing Life To A System

It’s easy to get lost in the bureaucracy side of aviation safety management systems:

I freely admit that in writing aviation safety articles, I find myself getting lost in writing about the the bureaucratic side, and it’s easy to get burned out. But the truth is that aviation systems are enforced by people, human factors in safety programs play a decisive role, and where there are people there is room for creativity.

An aviation SMS programs isn't simply a large, impersonal and never ending effort towards continuous safety improvement. They can be more creative than that – and creativity is fun and inspiring. In the case of SMS programs, a spark of creativity can breathe life into both an aviation SMS program and a safety manager’s satisfaction with his/her career.  

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Topics: Aviation SMS Implementation


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