Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Path of SMS

The Path of SMS

Post by CatalinaNJB

Vision yourself in a restaurant, with family, friends or someone special. It’s a wonderful atmosphere, theplace is spectacular, friendly personnel and everything is a million times better than expected. You arewaiting for the meal to be served when you hear the rattling noise of falling trash cans. The next thingyou know your meal is served on a bacteria infected lid of a trash can. Your meal is also served with anote stating that you must consume this meal to avoid a restaurant departure fee. You feel alone and trapped without a place to go.

This is how SMS was introduced to the aviation industry 10-12
First Impression of SMS.
years ago. It is a wonderful safety tool and the best thing thatever happened to safety, but it was served on top of the lid of atrash can. Nobody wanted to touch it or learn more about it. If that wasn’t enough, airlines and airports were trapped within their own four walls to accept regulatory designed expectations.There were no doors through the walls or a way out of the
expectation trap.

I was introduced to the Safety Management System (SMS) at a young age and before SMS became industry standard after I had witnessed a towing airplane and a glider crashed. The pilot of the glider airplane pulled the air-brakes at about 300 FT, the towing airplane stalled, and both crashed in the lake.This event triggered my understanding and comprehension of a safety management system where human factors, supervision factors, organizational factors and environmental factors systems are fundamental when conducting root cause analysis and corrective action plans for continuous system improvements. I studied SMS and became an expert in SMS by asking questions and learn from the best. 
I studied Transport Canada Staff Instruction, SI SUR-001 and found answers to 79 fundamental question of what an SMS is, where in the operational system an SMS fits in, when, as it relates to time and location, the SMS is applicable, who the SMS is applicable to, why it must be regulatory implemented to become effective, unless there is accountability and a commitment to a voluntary standard and how to apply SMS as a profit generating tool. I studies SMS until I could master SMS in the four circles of comprehension. 
I learned that collecting data is crucial to a successful SMS. Data is the first circle of comprehension, leading to the second circle of comprehension which is information, which creates an opportunity to derive a third circle of knowledge, after which the doors opens to the comprehension level of one autonomous system or interaction of several systems. These circles could become disproportionately imbalanced, in that there is either a lack of balance of inputs and outputs in one or more of the circles, or there is not enough space available within one circle itself to absorb the inflow of data, information or knowledge. When there is an overflow imbalance, SMS becomes overwhelming and unbearable.  
An effective SMS policy is based on a vision.
When SMS was first introduced it became an overflow of data and information to the point where it became unbearable.  At that time there were very few and no local experts or strategy solutions specialist available who comprehended the Safety Management System. The path moved forward without a vision of where it was going. Without a definite vision this lead to organizations continuing on an obscured trail leading to the end of a cliff. Travelling on this path did not and does not imply that an enterprise became unsafe in operations, but it implies that it was the simpler decision to make when they arrived at the fork in the road. The path chosen caused enterprises to revert to pre-SMS processes, disregarding defined regulatory expectations and moving in a direction of regulatory non-compliance. 
SMS is a fabulous tool. However, the missed opportunity when SMS was first introduced and in developing a profitable Safety Management System was for operators to define why the Global Aviation Industry, being Airlines or Airports, needs a Safety Management System (SMS) today, when they were safe yesterday without an SMS. 


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