Thursday, October 31, 2019

How To Measure Your SMS

How To Measure Your SMS
By Catalina9

Regulations require that an enterprise, being airport or airline, has a process for setting goals for the improvement of aviation safety and for measuring the attainment of those goals. The regulations requires only one process, or one method for setting multiple goals. The regulations also requires that an enterprise has established one process to measuring the attainments of their goals. When an enterprise goes above and beyond the regulations, they are applying the best-practices principle. Enterprises applying more than one process for goals setting and attainment are applying their best-practices to the SMS operations. However, there is a catch. The regulator has established expectations, or their own opinions, of what the process must include. A process must include that objectives and goals are consistent with the safety policy and their attainment is measurable.

Expectations are the foundation for your success.
Official, established expectations is a helpful tool for operators to run their SMS. Since the beginning of SMS implementation, airports and airlines executives have gained knowledge of SMS in operations. While they have high knowledge of SMS, they are not experts in the SMS field. One trap which is easy for operators to fall into, is that a position within their organization, as the Accountable Executive, is assumed to comprehend the Safety Management System. An Accountable Executive has the final SMS oversight by the regulations but does not have the final decision for SMS compliance. It is the SMS Manager, or Director of Safety, who makes the final SMS operational decision. Just like a corporate lawyer; a corporate accountant; a pilot; an aircraft mechanic; or a corporate janitor makes the final SMS decision within their expectations of job performance. It would be foolish by the CEO/AE to work against these experts. It is crucial to the success of SMS that the CEO, or AE, hire competent personnel as their SMS Manager. An SMS Manager could be a third-party SMS expert contractor. 

Expectations establishes order
Without comprehending SMS, the regulator expected airlines and airports to establish and maintain compliance. Establishing compliance was simplified by applying the four phase-in periods. Maintaining compliance became more difficult, since the operators did not hire competent personnel. The AE delegated authority to an SMS Manager position, with an expectation that safety would happen by accident. On the other side, the regulator became overwhelmed by SMS and therefore reverted to the old-school of inspections. Several regulatory inspections today are not SMS system inspections, but parameter exceedance operational inspections.

Human factors are to take the path of least resistance. Taking a vacation is a path of less resistance that rolling up the sleeves and do hard work. SMS is nothing else but hard work, and more work than anyone could ever imagine. After the four implementation phases airlines and airports went on a vacation to a beautiful place called someday-isle. In my estimation, 80% lives on someday-isle. Someday I’ll read a book, someday I’ll lose weight, someday I’ll learn about the Safety Management System. When things went wrong, as it sometimes will, their goals were to move back into the comfort of someday-isle. For 80% of the operators, their goals achievements became a huge success.

Airlines and airports with a successful SMS launched their idea with objectives and goal achievement plans. Unsuccessful SMS airlines and airports had the same    opportunity to launch, but they never did. It’s a simple fact that if you want to become SMS successful, do what the successful SMS operators do. Procrastination and fear of failure are the two reasons why SMS fails, or why airlines and airports do not conform to regulatory compliance. Remember, it’s just as easy to run an operation in compliance as it is to run an operation in non-compliance.

You set the tolerances when measuring your SMS
When setting SMS goals, the enterprise must have an SMS policy in place. An effective SMS policy is not to write a policy to be safe but to write a policy that goals and objectives can be linked back to. In the SMS hierarchy, the SMS policy establishes your forward-looking relationships with the operations, objectives establishes what needs to be achieved to comply with the policy, goals establishes how to achieve the objectives, processes establishes what; who; when; where; why and how things are done, procedures establishes prescriptive segments of a process and expectations establishes opinions of what to do for policy compliance. Without expectations SMS cannot function. An enterprise may establish their own expectations, while the path of least resistance is to apply expectations already established by the regulator. Expectations is a fabulous tool for developing the SMS and to measure your SMS performance.

Measuring the performance of your SMS must be based on data your organization has collected. While an enterprise may borrow data when establishing policies, objectives and goals, it is only your own data that will show how successful or unsuccessful your SMS is. The SMS performance report may include, Operational Safety, Aircraft Performance, Aircraft System Performance, Crew Performance, including airport operational crew, Company Procedures, Training Programs, Training Effectiveness, Aircraft Design, ATC System Operation, Airport Operational Issues or Meteorological Issues. The two types of analysis techniques which should be applied to SMS performance are parameter exceedance analysis and statistical process control (SPC) analysis. Exceedance is to establish your own numerical exceedance values, or where your organization draw the line in the sand. SPC analysis is to analyse if operational processes are within statistical control limits. Without applying SPC to your SMS, the SMS will not give you the most valuable information to what performance confidence level your SMS is operating.     


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