SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

What Is an Aviation Safety Database

Posted by Tyler Britton on Oct 25, 2016 5:55:00 AM

Aviation Safety Database Saves Considerable Resources

Aviation safety database makes connections in SMS programs

An aviation safety database is not simply an improvement over spreadsheets. It completely overhauls the way you interact with safety information.

While safety databases have a price tag associated with them, the fact is that they save companies many valuable resources in both the short term and long term. These resources include:

  • Safety managements’ time;
  • Safety managements’ energy spent monitoring, updating, and trying to relate multiple spreadsheets;
  • Company money spent on the manual updating of spreadsheets; and
  • Exposure to data mistakes, faulty decision making due to incorrect data, or total loss of company safety data.

An upgrade from a spreadsheet might be another application that serves a singular function like a "point solution." A point solution would be used to perform one duty, but would have more tools than a spreadsheet. However, these solutions are not integrated with the rest of the functionality and data within an aviation SMS.

A safety database saves considerable resources because its entirely integrated. All tools, all data, one place.

What an Aviation Safety Database Does

Unlike a spreadsheet, or spreadsheet’s more capable older brother point-solutions, a safety database in aviation would be like:

  • Combining all spreadsheets and point locations;
  • Automating most of your interactions with them;
  • Nearly eliminating the exposure to data corruption, inconsistency, etc.;
  • Gaining the ability to set permissions and security for each spreadsheets based on roles; and
  • Gaining the ability to automatically perform complex data operations, such as to acquire specific safety performance metrics.

An aviation safety database does simply replace a spreadsheet. It completely overhauls, connects, centralizes, and automatically interacts all spreadsheets together.

Safety databases allows safety information analysis and sharing in ways that spreadsheets or point solutions cannot even begin to match. Here are a few more things you need to know to understand what an aviation safety database is and how it differs from manual spreadsheets.

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The Greatest Limitations with Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets have several limitations that range from inconvenient to potentially catastrophic. To understand these limitations, their danger, and how an aviation safety database fixes these issues, consider ways we have commonly seen spreadsheets used:

  1. Spreadsheets are located on your computer, and you manually update them (the same spreadsheet may also exist on other computers);
  2. Your spreadsheets are located on a company server that you can access from any computer and manually input your data;
  3. You use a real time spreadsheets, such as Google Sheets to manually input your data; or
  4. You use point solutions, which are basically spreadsheets on steroids, that will automatically input data.

The first three points are exposed to the following hazards:

  • Inputting incorrect information, and making decisions based of that incorrect information;
  • Having data appear differently in multiple locations, such as on different computers or on different spreadsheets;
  • Safety data loss through accidental deletion, data corruption, etc.; and
  • Difficulty in creating security measures for controlled access.

Moreover, all spreadsheets and point solutions will suffer the following serious limitations:

  • Lack of integration with other spreadsheets/solutions;
  • Inconsistency between different spreadsheets;
  • Will only be able to perform fairly simple operations, such as being only able to create simple safety metrics; and
  • Will all require manual work to extract any meaningful data.

How Safety Databases Solve Spreadsheet Limitations

One of the primary benefits of any database is that professionally designed databases ensure nearly 100% consistency of all information. One piece of data will appear the same everywhere. If that piece of data is changes, it will change everywhere.

By integrating all data together, databases can perform extremely complex operations on the data. What this means practically is that you can:

  • Uncover underlying causes of issues;
  • Discover relationships between aspects of your organization that you otherwise would not have known existed;
  • Assure that decisions are made for reliable reasons; and most importantly
  • Continually improve the quality of decisions as you explore more complex metrics.

Moreover, databases are backed up and changes are logged. So in the event of a mistake, accidental deletion, or corruption, data loss is not a major concern.

Final Thought: Why Safety Databases Will Be a Future Requirement

At some point, aviation service providers will be required to have a safety database either out of necessity or compliance obligations. This will happen for a couple of reasons:

  • Satisfying safety performance requirements will entail having safety data that only databases can provide (and are simply not feasible with spreadsheets);
  • Safety management systems will be ubiquitous in the aviation industry, and safety databases will simply be a standard tool; and
  • Service providers will eventually realize that safety and headache benefits aside, databases save companies a lot of money.

Are you still using spreadsheets or point solutions? A low cost, commercially available SMS database solution takes away your pain. Accountable executives can be assured that their SMS is managed using industry accepted workflows. Remove auditing fear with a best-in-class SMS database.

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Published October 2016. Last updated January 2019.

Topics: 3-Safety Assurance

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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