Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Your Legend Is Our Success

Your Legend Is Our Success
Post by Caltalina9

There are multiple conflicting operational expectations between an airport Safety Management System (SMS) and the airline SMS. For an airport certificate to conform to regulatory requirement, the airport is required to accept less than perfect aircraft operations. On the other hand, for an airline to conform to regulatory compliance, they are required not to accept less than perfect aircraft operations. The airport certificate is applied to operations of a reality world, while the airline certificate is applied to a virtual world operation.

Sucess is the foundation of safety improvements
An airport certificate is founded on flaws in the aircraft operations system, while the airline certificate cannot operate with flaws. Airports are built for accidents, while aircraft are built for perfectionism. An airline SMS which does not accept incidents just eliminated their opportunity to improve in safety. Aviation accidents needs to be accepted as an inherent risk of flying and ongoing reality for the safe operation of an aircraft. This does not imply that one single future accident is acceptable, but rather that a future accident is an inevitable outcome. 

The risk management of an SMS includes a structured process for the assessment of risk associated with identified hazards, expressed in terms of severity, level of exposure and probability of occurrence. The level of exposure of an occurrence equal one (1), since an occurrence is an event that already has happened. Exposure to a hazard equals either zero (0) or one (1), depending on if the hazard is known or unknown to the airport or airline operator.

If hazard is known and expected to affect operations the exposure level equal one (E.g. Obstacle on approach.)
If hazard is unknown and expected to affect operations the exposure level equal zero (E.g. Obstacle on approach)

That airports and airlines accept the exposure of an unknown hazard that is expected to affect operation, which makes a future accident is an inevitable outcome. The SMS itself is not required to assess risk levels of unknown hazards. That an organization has a proactive system in place that provides for the capture of internal information identified as hazards is an extension of a reactive process. It’s an extension of a reactive process since the hazard must be known, or active, for a corrective action to be implemented.

Out of focus is still in view
The question to answer is how to respond to unknown hazards which are expected to affect the safety of an aircraft. An unknown hazard is still a hazard that exists. There might be conventional knowledge out there that a proactive system that captures internal information identified as hazard closes the gap. It’s a simple task to close the gap of a known hazard, but takes proactive leadership to action an unknown, or latent hazard. This is where safety critical areas, safety critical functions and the risk assessment comes into play. They key to action unknown hazards is to treat each flight as the very first successful flight.  

It’s true that the risk assessment is based on a known hazard, but the purpose of a risk assessment is to establish the likelihood level of every safety critical areas and safety critical functions. A risk assessment is not a one-time assessment and good to go forever, but a risk assessment of airport capability, approach, departure, aircraft and crew each the time the aircraft first move until it stops at its destination. SMS is applying the bush-pilot concept to safety. No matter how many times they have flown into an unprepared field, a water aerodrome, gravel bank or the perfect runway, they own their own safety and the awareness is on the likelihood of a successful flight.

A runway excursion may become a major accident or a less severe incident. When an airplane slides off a runway without any damages, your legend is the airport’s success. One reason the excursion was without damages is due to an expectation that an airplane will slide off one time or another. If the airport did not include this expectation, they would not maintain their airport certificate. Beyond the runway pavement, the runway strip is graded to a level to protect an airplane. Objects raised above ground level are frangible to avoid damages, and the airport has fire trucks and trained aviation firefighters on the field for an immediate response. The one reason that the airport could maintain safety was to expect less than perfect airline operations. If the airport did not maintain a graded area beyond the runway or if objects above ground level were not frangible, the outcome of an excursion could become catastrophic. When a runway excursion ends well, your legend is our success.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Who Is Running Your SMS?

Who Is Running Your SMS?
By Catalina9

With the implementation of a Safety Management System for airports and airlines came the SMS expectations. These expectations are opinion-based of what actions are required by the operators to conform to regulatory compliance. These expectations are not expectations for airports or airlines to manage operational safety, since they do not address safety. One of these expectations is that there is a safety policy in place that is followed and understood. It’s a simple task to determine if the policy exists, but a bit more difficult to determine if the policy is followed. It’s impossible to determine as a fact that the safety policy is understood. Based upon what this safety policy expectation requires, there are no operators currently conforming to regulatory compliance. Before they even got started with the rest of their SMS, they had all failed the safety policy regulatory requirement.

Wishes are the expectations of random flow of events.

Within a Safety Management System intent doesn’t matter. The intent to conform to regulatory requirement, intent to be safe or intent to understand the safety policy is irrelevant. It is the behavior with accountability that matters within an SMS. This goes back to who is running your SMS. Many of us would say it’s the Accountable Executive or the SMS Manager. Well, that would be nice if that was true, but it isn’t. Both these SMS positions are incidental to their real jobs in the organization. This becomes apparent in the Regulations itself, where the Operations Manager does not have any responsibilities pursuant to the SMS system or Quality Assurance Program unless a finding is reported to that person. Operations Managers are not required to action any findings of which they have not received a report of. This itself makes their SMS responsibilities incidental to their Ops Manager responsibilities. An Ops Manager may witness an event, hazard or regulatory finding, but is not required to take any action until after they have received a report.
You can't eat your cake and have it too!
The Accountable Executive is in the same boat. The only requirement for the AE is for that person to have control of the financial and human resources that are necessary for the activities and operations authorized under the certificate. By the regulations, the AE position is incidental to their real job in the organization. The primary job function of the AE is to first be the CEO, or President of the company and to ensure the shareholders or owners meet their expected return on investment. It is interesting how the regulations don’t recognize a regulated SMS position, but still expects the SMS to function effectively.

Without a regulated position there is nobody running your SMS. There are no process analysis qualifications requirements to accept any of these positions and the only requirement is that they are willing to accept. Now there are two positions with personnel who make incomplete regulatory and safety decisions. When a system is run incomplete and the loops are not closed, the SMS system becomes its worst enemy. That the AE and SMS Manager don’t comprehend their own SMS is demonstrated by their responses to the Regulator’s findings. They don’t question their findings but folds to the authority with one goal in mind to develop corrective action plans that pleases the Regulator. Safety in operations have become a challenge with the Regulator micromanaging third-parties [airport or airline] Safety Management System. Nobody is running your SMS, but the AE and SMS Manager still expect miracles or safety improvements.

A duck's perspective of a safety process analysis
The only option to operate an effective SMS, and to take the load of your mind is to hire qualified SMS personnel, who comprehend your SMS. Just like your organization accepts accountability by seeking advice from a lawyer, accountant, medical personnel, the dentist, maintenance personnel, pilot or the janitor; The time is now for your organization to accept accountability and run your SMS.


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