Monday, September 21, 2020



By Catalina9

Travel and exotic destination were affected deeply by the COVID19 virus. Airplanes were parked, airports became ghost towns, and everyone stood up and walked off. Life became a life on the Someday Island. Life in the fast lane became a life of stagnation and procrastination. Airport and airline executives were scrambling to keep operations to a bare minimum. Time went on without any progress being made. Everyone was procrastinating and waiting for the recovery in aviation to lift off like a rocket. But nothing ever happened…

Procrastination is to leave a blank page for someone else to write your story
The aviation industry is experiencing exciting times these days. This is an exiting time since the next page of aviation history is a blank page to be published. Not only are we given a blank page, but we are also given a pencil to fill out the page with whatever we want! This is an opportunity like nothing before, where we can build anything out of the aviation industry. If I remember correctly, the last time it happened was in 1903. We have been given a golden opportunity to get it right this time. Yes, it is true that prior to COVID19 air travel was statistically the safest mode of transportation, wile it is also true that the result of one single accident in air travel caused more harm to the travelling public and their loved ones than any other mode of transportation. These records speak for themselves by all regulatory restrictions that over the years were imposed on airlines and airports. 

Since the first flight of 1903 air travel implemented excellent safety measures after each major accident. The 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision laid the base for modernizing ATC, controlled airspace, and radar. At the time of the crash both aircraft were compliant with the regulation. In 2012 two general aviation aircraft crashed mid-air in the middle of nowhere. Both captains complied with the regulations at the time of the crash. The Tenerife Island March 27, 1977 is still the worst aviation accident in the history of aviation. There are many speculations and two independent reports concluded differently. However, one fact remains, that one crew did everything they could to maintain compliance with the regulatory required flight duty time. After each major accident several great safety measures had been implemented, which generally were technical, mechanical and automation improvements or new regulations. The aviation industry eventually caught on that imposing regulations and improved mechanical and automation advancements were not the only tools to prevent accidents. The next step in the system was to improve the Human Factors System.  This goal became true with ICAO’s mandate of a Safety Management System and with regulatory implementation by each ICAO state. The SMS regulation was different than previous regulations in that it is performance based as opposed to prescriptive. While the prescriptive regulation required 100% compliance 100% of the time. With a 100% / 100% requirement there is no room for safety improvements since the regulation itself ensured 100% safety. The new SMS regulations were based on a 95% confidence level of compliance, which leaves room for improvement. This was unheard of and rejected by many in the aviation industry. 

Procrastination is a learned skill and behavior to take on trivial tasks without directions. Procrastinators are permanent residents of the Someday Island and only get off the island when their leaders demand that they do. Procrastination is by many identified lazy, or bad behavior, while in the real world, procrastinators might contribute more than the go-getters. Procrastinators are followers, they need guidance and support for their opinions. They leave the door wide open for anyone who moved away from the Someday Island to generate a wealth of success. Without the procrastinators, there would be little or no room for a successful business. Procrastinate, or procrastinare, or utsette, means to wait until tomorrow to start on a task. However, tomorrow does not exist and never comes to your rescue. My goal is to help procrastinators to achieve their wishes and dreams in the comfort of their place on the Someday Island. 

After the COVID19 hit, successful business leaders became procrastinators, or possible they were already procrastinators being directed by their leaders. Airlines and airports managers sudden stopped in their tracks. They had arrived at the Fork-In-The-Road and without directions as they had not done their homework and the Fork-In-The-Road Test. 

The COVID19 fork-in-the-road was a surprise with nowhere else to go.
The Fork-In-The-Road test is a tool to identify if current steps in the evaluation process are taking shortcuts and jumping to a conclusion that the new strategy is the correct strategy and it’s a tool for a contingency plan when The-Fork-In-The-Road comes unexpected. A shortcut is an attempt to break the wall in a maze to make it to the end without following the planned path. The Fork-In-The-Road Test is to backtrack the process to find out where in the maze the wall failed and then think in 3D, which is measured in time, space, and compass. When thinking in 3D a future scenario can be designed. This does not imply that the future can be predicted, but it implies that data, information, knowledge, and comprehension are vital steps to predict hazards that affect operational processes.

Procrastination is defined in Pareto’s 80/20 principle. Applying this principle, it is reasonable to expect that 20% of human behavior is the cause of 80% of the result. 20% of pilots may cause 80% of the incidents, 20% of airport operators may cause 80% of unsafe airport operations or 20% of the CEOs may cause 80% of business failures. This is a principle or theory and a tool to initiate actions to draw the first card for recovery in aviation. There is no doubt that COVID19 forever changed the landscape.  

The Safety Management System is a tool for recovery. The ICAO SMS system itself is so brilliantly designed that it blows any other pre-SMS safety systems currently in place. Based on the Pareto principle it is reasonable to expect that 20% of airport and airline operators have embraced SMS and moved away from the Someday Island. 

The next step for recovery at airports and recovery in aviation is to accept that changes has occurred and that they need to move forward in a digital customer appreciation environment. The NextGen of customer appreciation is for airports and airline operators to take on a role in Project Solutions Leadership Motivation. The roles of the Accountable Executive have changed from business management to apply a businesslike approach to the Safety Management System. Both airports and airlines would have experienced a reduction in economic losses if they pre-COVID19 had implemented a businesslike approach to SMS. But rather than focusing on SMS they were running the old-way safety which is extremely expensive. A pre-COVID19 transition to a businesslike approach to SMS would have reduced the impact since SMS operational cost is less than the cost of safety. 

If you don't design Your Amazing Airport or Airline plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.


Friday, September 18, 2020

How Using an SMS and QA Integrator Saves Money!

How Using an SMS/QA Integrator Saves $Money$

Most small companies have accountants, lawyers and human resource people. Usually these small companies can not afford to have these required functions on a full time basis. Their accountant works from an accounting firm and monitors the books and gives advise. The lawyers usually work for a law firm outside the company and are called upon when needed to assist in legal business situations. A lot of companies contract out their Human Resource functions to payroll and other personnel management companies. Let's face it, it is a lot cheaper to hire a payroll or accounting company then to pay a full time accountant with benefits and all the costs that go along with a full time employee sitting at a desk. We have to have these departments because regulations and laws require it. As long as the functions meet all the legal and regulatory requirements, why not "Think outside the box" for ways to streamline and thus reduce the costs of the required functions while still getting the desired results. 

"Why can't we do the same with Safety Management Systems, SMS and Quality Assurance, QA?"

SMS Flow is a complex Process

Safety Management Systems and Quality Assurance are daily and continuous processes. So the questions is;  do we need to have a person sitting in the company to make the SMS and QA work?  We have learned valuable lessons from the great Quality Assurance gurus like Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Dr. Joseph Juran. It is the "Processes" themselves that create, control and produce the desired results for successful outcomes. It is not a single person who is responsible for the Safety or Quality functions that a company strives for, but rather it is the collection of  stakeholders working together within a "system" that produce the desired outcomes. 

So here's the Paradigm!  "We must have a person that is sitting in the company somewhere that is responsible for the SMS and QA function!"

Not so! All the activities of a successful Safety Management System and Quality Assurance System can be easily "Facilitated" remotely. Let me explain "facilitated." 

Everyday Safety reports are generated. The actual reporter and/or designated administrative person enters the report into a "Database" (such as SMS Pro, Vortex...etc.) The SMS Integrator, (who for all intents and purpose acts as the SMS Manager), now takes those reports and facilitates Risk Assessment, Root Cause Analysis and the development of Corrective Action Plans. The SMS Integrator manages the reports in the company's system by convening Safety groups through email, distance conferencing, (i.e. Zoom, MS Teams...etc.) and other Robust communication methods. The SMS Integrator monitors the "Corrective Action Plans" and reports on a continuous bases and reports to the company's management on "Corrective Actions" and "Continuous Improvement" initiatives. 

Daily Monitoring of The SMS remotely

"The key to a successful SMS Integration is based on several important decisions that must be made by the company."

1st. Are the company employees committed to the SMS and QA programs and willing to participate in Safety committees and Quality Circle Groups. 

2nd. Is the upper management of the company committed to supporting the SMS and QA system. 

3rd. You must contract an SMS Integrator that has the knowledge, skills and ability to manage a successful SMS and QA Program. The Integrator company must have "Profound" knowledge of SMS and QA Regulations and be able to conduct effective training to company personnel. The SMS Integrator must have knowledge of the operation, procedures and responsibilities of the company's local regulator personnel. The SMS Integrator must have communication skills to interface management initiative with the SMS and QA program. When management seeks change, the SMS Integrator must be able to conduct "Management of Change" processes to facilitate any changes with company personnel and processes. They need to produce "Safety Cases" and brief the company's management and personnel on the risks induced by the proposed changes and come up with mitigating measures. 

The Integrator is THE SMS Manager

The SMS Integrator can also monitor and maintain the company's Hazard Register to help management come up with Goals and Objectives from the Safety Risk Profile that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. The SMS Integrator also monitors the Hazard Register for Trending and reports appropriate data to management and then facilitates the corrective actions needed. 

The SMS Integrator would be responsible for the company's robust Audit program. The SMS Integrator would conduct SMS and QA Audit training to certify company personnel to perform Audits. In addition, all SMS and QA training would be conducted by the Integrator thus saving money in hiring "outside" training organizations. 


Since the company does not have to have a full time SMS and/or QA manager, a company can save on salary and benefits associated with these positions. In most cases anywhere from 50 to 150 thousand dollars. Because the SMS Integrator has daily communication and contact with the company, the company would have to designate an "Administrative" person to be the hands and feet of the Integrator at the physical building as needed. An Integrator liaison would be only a portion of the administrative person's responsibilities and therefore the cost factor is significantly lower as compared to hiring a full time SMS or QA Manager. In most cases, the cost of contracting with an SMS Integrator is about 10-20% of the cost of hiring managers for these positions. 

The SMS Integrator will also be responsible to the company's regulators when it comes to regulatory Assessment, Process Validations and Process Inspections. Since the SMS Integrator is responsible, any Corrective Actions required by the regulator is the responsibility of the SMS Integrator to facilitate in the company. The company would not have to hire a consultant to help develop CAPs and other Actions. This is tremendous saving of thousands of dollars. 

You do NOT have to purchase new or expensive SMS Software. The SMS Integrator will use your existing SMS Database no matter which one it is.  The company will simple add the SMS Integrator to the user list in order to see reports and data. This is also a significant savings. Even if you do not have or want to stop paying for SMS Software, the SMS Integrator will be able to work a system of reporting and monitoring that would replace SMS Software at very little or in most cases no additional cost. 

The Cost Savings are Significant!!

What about the Regulations?

There is no regulation stating the requirements for the position only the requirement for the SMS System. The fact is that several enterprises are already using an SMS Integrator with the regulator's blessing.  If needed, the actual SMS Integrator will physically come to the company in the circumstance of a regulatory audit if the company so desires. 

The SMS Integrator takes the place of the SMS Manager!


October 20 12pm

By Dennis Taboada, M.eng.,CQE,CQM


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Aviation Recovery

 Aviation Recovery

The 200th Post from Catalina9! 

Aviation recovery is on a path to the fork-in-the road, where one single decision could be the determining factor of recovery success or failure. The downturn in aviation came as a shock to executives and decisionmakers in both airlines and airports. Life in the aviation-line was good and daily operations was extremely successful by their own standards and assessments. By their own success from the past, airports and airline executives was protected from making emotionally difficult operational decisions. When COVID-19 hit, everything they knew about decision-making disappeared. Their inability to react positively to the downturn is the greatest example of how both airlines and airports had swept their Safety Management System (SMS) under the rug. The first day of the pandemic an airport or airline with a successful SMS would have picked up their pre-designed Safety Case or Change Management plan for actions to move forward. Or, at a minimum, they would have initiated a Change Management plan at that time.

An empty airport is a hazard to aviation.

 Both airlines and airport   executives did what they   how to do the best. They   reduced their operational   personnel to a minimum.   This step, among other   steps, were necessary   reactive processes due to   the approaching economic   situation. A successful SMS   would not have prevented   these reactions, but a   successful SMS was at that   moment the tool for           executives to apply and initiate recovery steps. Procrastination is an enemy of success.


A Safety Management System is not the magic wand to eliminate changes or hazards. However, it is the greatest tool for recovery in aviation. This is the time for airports and airlines executives to embrace their losses and move forward with their digital recovery. The path to success in recovery is to take on the KWINK challenge, Knowing What I Now Know. It is known that success was achieve in the past and it’s known that this success failed tremendously. When conducting a risk assessment for moving forward while knowing the outcome of the past, the path that lead to success in the past must be changed. The purpose of a risk assessment is not just to momentarily avoid hazards and reduce risks, but also to design a Project Solution Leadership Motivation plan to action when success fails.


A standard risk assessment does not do the job for the multiple risk assessments that must be done for recovery in aviation. A standard risk assessment defines losses while it eliminates the hazards of success. Several years ago, I developed a risk matrix for both success and failures. A systematically failed risk assessment process is one where times between intervals of failures are methodical, planned, and dependable, without defining the operational system or processes involved. A prerequisite for airports or airlines recovery process is to review risk assessments of the past for failure or success. If the outcome was as expected by the risk assessment it was successful, but if the outcome failed, then the risk assessment process failed. If, for some reason, a risk assessment of hazard or incident reports were not conducted, the risk assessment is assumed to have failed. In Canada, since the SMS was implemented for airlines in 2006 and airports in 2009, there should be a wealth of data to review for recovery.


The aviation industry will look totally different tomorrow that how it was yesterday. Airport terminals designed yesterday was designed to meet the needs of the airport itself and not the travelling public. Airside personnel responsibilities today are regulatory compliance and compliance with SMS policies. Their responsibilities are not linked to aircraft movement or passenger counts, but to the static regulatory environment. Airline personnel, including pilots, mechanics and customer service representative responsibilities are the combination of static regulatory and variable customer service tasks. When accounting for time away from these responsibilities all personnel require retraining before returning to operations. A major change in the aviation industry since yesterday is that yesterday’s operations got away with regulatory requirements only, while operations today must cater to customers expectations. What the aviation industry had missed, both airlines and airports, when the COVID hit, was to have a prepared answer the question raised several times: “Why does the Global Aviation Industry, being Airlines or Airports, need a Safety Management System (SMS) today, when they were safe yesterday without an SMS?”

Different approach equals different outcome.

Operations will never be the same for airlines or airports. When the world stopped, the aviation industry took a downturn. The only way for Your Amazing Airport or Amazing Airline to succeed is to embrace the new digital world. We all like to see the good old days come back, but our wishes are irrelevant to what's happening. We need to service our customer's primary needs. While they love to travel and fly to exotic destinations, their worries are how their trip will be interrupted by other events. Imagine how stressful it is for your friends who are restricted, uncomfortable, and restrained to their seat in an airplane that has not moved for hours because it's parked. The ability to set and achieve a goal through systematic focus and accomplishment is the most powerful way to turn your dreams and visions into reality.


A successful recovery is to embrace public opinion and social media since they are telling you what they expect of Your Amazing Airline or Airport and what you need to know. Social media posts are being pushed aside by experts as being untrue or irrelevant to operations. Over the years I have written about this systematic customer service failure. Our goal is to provide exceptional and unconditional service to customers from a point of view of the travelling public. The recovery is to listen to our customers, and they are there on social media. Digital Recovery is the key factor to Celebrate Your Success.




Line-Item Audits

  Line-Item Audits By OffRoadPilots A irports and airlines are required to conduct a triennial audit of the entire quality assurance program...