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.




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