SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

What is Aviation Safety Training

Posted by Tyler Britton on Feb 10, 2017 6:19:00 AM

What Defines Aviation Safety Training

What is aviation safety trainingAviation safety training is an essential building block for safety culture. It falls under the Safety Promotion component in the 4 Pillars of Aviation SMS. Safety training can make or break the successful performance of an SMS program for:

  • Meeting safety goals and objectives;
  • Sustaining continuous improvement;
  • Ensuring large return on investments for the aviation SMS program;
  • Ensuring consumer confidence in the company (i.e., lack of accidents);
  • Developing a mature safety culture; and
  • Ensuring compliance is met.

Safety training is not a simple topic though. The aviation industry is littered with so called “training courses” that offer very little substance.

Here are the important elements of safety training in the aviation industry

Signs of Good Aviation Safety Training

Not all aviation risk management training is created equal. The quality of aviation safety training ranges as much as training price tags. And more expensive does not always equal better quality either. Getting good aviation SMS training is about knowing what to look for.

You can generally get a good indication of the quality of a training course from the course syllabus. Here are several elements of training that indicate a quality course:

  • Pre training assessments;
  • Practical application of ideas rather than definitions or concepts;
  • Topics that are relevant to your aviation SMS program;
  • Hands on training, stresses “doing” rather than “listening”;
  • End of course assessments; and
  • Take home materials.

The above points are all geared towards one thing: operational risk management.

The idea of training for operational risk management is very different from most risk management training courses, which often fail to move beyond lecture based, conceptual models of risk.

Such training courses are a waste of money, as employees will forgot most of the training by the time they fall asleep at night.

Signs Your Employees Need More Safety Training

Safety training needs to happen at every level of an organization. Front line employees, safety management, and upper management all need to understand their role in the risk management process.

Often times, the effectiveness of SMS training will depend on safety management’s ability to understand what safety training is actually needed. How much money is wasted every year on redundant, irrelevant, or superfluous safety training?

Make sure risk management training counts – here are several indicators that more SMS training is needed:

  • Employees have not received SMS induction training;
  • Front line employees have not received specific risk management training;
  • Safety management gets confused during risk analysis;
  • Department heads’ created CPAs do not meet the standards of goals and objectives;
  • Previous safety training has not featured pre and/or end of course assessments; and
  • Safety performance has plateaued.

Monitoring quality safety data metrics, such as aviation leading indicators, are a great way to monitor where more training is needed.

Why Safety Training Fails

The fact is that aviation SMS training does guarantee anything. The training program might be a complete flop. This is bad financially, for safety, and for employee confidence in the SMS program. Here are the most common mistakes made in training courses:

  • Nothing in it for the employees – what incentives to they have to pay attention or care?
  • Training blindness due to same training materials being used over and over;
  • Safety training materials are boring; and
  • SMS training is not personally relevant to employees’ operational environment.

The above points are concluded by one feeling employees have about SMS training: they don’t care about it.

What to Expect From Aviation Risk Management Training

Don’t be fooled by false expectations about safety training. It may or may not be good for the SMS program. The success of training depends on many factors, including:

  • Existing safety culture;
  • How hands on training materials are;
  • Historical precedent for safety training; and
  • The quality of training course, such as how interesting and stimulating the course is.

When the above requisites are not met for quality training, safety managers are often stuck with a bloated opinion of the preparedness level of the organization – the training misconceptions are that:

  • The safety training will improve safety performance;
  • Knowing the ideas and concepts will result in improved safety behavior; and
  • The risk management training was a good use of resources.

The above can be true, but training by no means guarantees it. Only good safety training provides these benefits.

Final Thought: Important Topics for Aviation Safety Training

Several SMS topics require more attention than others. Some of the core topics that should be trained are:

  • Safety awareness;
  • Safety communication;
  • Safety accountability; and
  • The full risk management cycle.

The above points should give employees a solid foundation in effective safety culture needed for a successful aviation safety management system.


If you have further interest in safety training for aviation service providers, the following two resources should prove very useful for your learning resources:

See course syllabus for Certified Aviation Risk Management Training

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