Saturday, December 11, 2021

Santa’s SMS Did It Again

 Santa’s SMS Did It Again


Last year Santa moved the production line south to an undisclosed location. The North Pole had become too remote with the anticipated supply chain shortage. When Santa first moved to the North Pole, the waterways were free of ice and ships could move material from anywhere on the globe into Santa’s harbor for another production year. Before moving to the North Pole, Santa had the production site on an undisclosed location with easy access to and from all seven seas. As the Norsemen begun to intrude on the production line and plundering toys and presents, Santa realized that it was time to move to a different place, and the North Pole was chosen. It wasn’t very far for Santa to move since the manufacturing place was nicely hidden in an ocean bay. Travel to the North Pole was just a short journey travel between a few islands and beautiful green landscape to reach the ice landscape at the Pole. Moving south again last season was therefore not new for Santa, Mrs. Santa, or the Elves.

Santa practicing at an undisclosed location
 What was different this off-season was that     Rudolph, Randolph and the other reindeers had their airworthiness certificates suspended by TC (Take Care Authority) and was therefore not able train or prepare for rooftop landings or departures and practice speedy delivery across the globe in 24 hours. There was even a chance that the reindeers would not get their certificate back for this season due to the mad-reindeer rampant at the North Pole. The way this affects reindeers become uncontrollable and their air navigation reliability totally unreliable. Due to a similar rampant in 1918 Santa was not able to deliver presents since the reindeers only circled the North Pole. Luckily, none of Santa’s reindeers were affected this year due to their healthy living from Mrs. Santa’s special-cause reindeer mixture.     

Santa had a huge task this season to get all reindeers trained and in shape for travel. After several months of quarantined in a congested area, they had lost much of their strength and time for training was running out. The first thing on Santa’s list was to upgrade their hooves to the current version of rooftop autolanding system. The latest is an autoland Category 4RVR or four reindeer rooftop simultaneously and includes a chimney glide slope, where the chimney itself geo-located for GPS, or Get-Presents-Soon approaches to be used anywhere. Prior to GPS approaches 4RVR and visibility zero-zero, Santa had to do several approaches to make it in to one single home. Sometimes the reindeers missed the rooftop and slid off the gable end. In areas with little or no snow, Santa was hurt and unable to crawl down the chimney and had to leave the presents outside. 


Santa’s backup plan if reindeers were permanently grounded.

Prior to the Category 4RVR autoland Rudolph had a radio altimeter installed in the front-right hoof. This approach allowed for approaches down to 200-hooves. Most of the times this worked well, but the radio frequencies of the many new electronic toys, interfered with the radio altimeter signal which could cause crash landings. A crash landing did not disable the reindeers, since the crash was cushioned by Santa’s heavy sleigh landing first. Santa was sometimes hurt, especially when ejected from the sleigh, but recovered quickly after seated back in the sleigh by Rudolph.

By the end of summerseason Santa had installed CAT 4RVR equipment on all four hooves of all the reindeers. When all reindeers had CAT 4RVR installed, the programmed glideslope was determined for each hoof and locked in on approach for autoland. The next step was to train the reindeers to use this new system. One hazard identified was that Rudolph and the other reindeers tried to locate a rooftop visually which caused spatial disorientation, the inability of a reindeer to determine the true body position, motion, and altitude relative to the earth or the surroundings. Since all initial training was required by TC to be done by the VFR regulations, or Very Frequent Runs regulations, it became a difficult task for Santa to simulate zero-zero visibility. Mrs. Clause had already completed a Change Management case, or Safety Case of how to administer the training applying the VFR regulations. It was not a simple task, but by building a 3-D virtual town in the sky, they could place eye-covers on all the reindeers and do their CAT 4RVR approach training. The beauty of this 3-D virtual town was that after the reindeers came to a stop, they would not fall out of the sky but remain on the rooftop for zero-zero departure training. 

After the quarantine all systems were treated as new and fist approval.

By now, Santa had complied with two out of three requirements identified in Mrs. Clause’s Safety Case. The last item for the airworthiness certificate to be reinstated to ensure that all reindeers were fit to fly, that their fur were smooth to create lift, that their engines, or their hoof turbine assistant system could operate at takeoff speed and continuous flight level speed over a 24-hour period and that all other secondary navigation systems and lights, including Rudolph’s red nose was working. After a few days the airworthiness certificate for all reindeers were reinstated. This new certificate came with a barcode to identify a reindeer’s health, location, and travel in 3-D. These barcodes were attached to the reindeers’ ears so that satellites and other air traffic could scan and identify Santa from a safe distance. 

Once again Santa was ready to deliver presents. If it had not been for Santa’s SMS, or Streamlined Mission Service system, they could not have managed the enormous task to ensure safety in their operations after being quarantined for several months, several months with no operational training and several months without starting up or using their systems required to make 100% deliveries to 100% of the homes 100% successful 100% of the times. 



Monday, November 29, 2021

Fond Du Lac

Fond Du Lac

By Catalina9

This post is about the ATR-42 crash at Fond Du Lac. There are several lessons to learn from this incident, while on the other hand it is easy to overlook what we can learn by denial that this could never happen to us. TSB report was released October 28, 2021.

After accident investigations TSB issue recommendations to TC to implement new or change current regulations. A recommendation from this incident is for TC to require all commercial aviation operators in Canada to implement a formal safety management system. 

TSB report reads: “When the flight crew and dispatcher held a briefing for the day’s flights, they became aware of forecast icing along the route of flight. Although both the flight crew and the dispatcher were aware of the forecast ground icing, the decision was made to continue with the day’s planned route to several remote airports that had insufficient de-icing facilities.”


A Safety Management System (SMS) is an oversight system of the operations itself. An effective oversight system includes a daily quality control system. There are several parts to an SMS, but the two key parts to operations are daily quality control and monitoring of quality assurance. Airport operations and flight operations traditionally has been separated as two independent operations which one does not affect the other. With SMS this changed that if a regulation it not broad enough to capture a hazard, then the operator is responsible to mitigate the hazard. One of the SMS regulations reads that an SMS Enterprise needs a process for identifying hazards to aviation safety and for evaluating and managing the associated risks. Sometimes it is just as important to know what the regulations does not read. This regulation does not read that an airport or airline must identify their own hazards. It simply reads that they need a process to identify hazards to aviation safety. Under the SMS regulations it is just as incumbent on the airport operator as the airline to ensure that de-icing equipment is in place since it has to do with safety for the flying public and safety at the airport. The TSB report addresses remote Canadian Airports and there are remote airports that provide de-icing services and a vehicle with hot de-icing fluid. De-icing fluid is a service for sale, just as they sell fuel and other services. TSB recommendation is that the Department of Transport collaborate with air operators and airport authorities to identify locations where there is inadequate de-icing and anti-icing equipment and take urgent action to ensure that the proper equipment is available to reduce the likelihood of aircraft taking off with contaminated critical surfaces.

Another part of the regulation reads that no person shall conduct or attempt to conduct a take-off in an aircraft that has frost, ice or snow adhering to any of its critical surfaces. A daily quality control system has a responsibility to capture the daily weather forecast and other weather-related reports, images or videos as a prerequisite for their quality assurance system. An airline may be operating with a dispatch system, flight following system or a pilot self-dispatch system. Whatever level of operational oversight system that is in place, any weather report must trigger a reaction. 

The reaction could be to do nothing, but needs to be documented and justified why nothing, or no reaction is required. An SMS Manger, or Safety Director, at an airport is responsible under the regulations to implement a reporting system to ensure the timely collection of information related to hazards, incidents and accidents that may adversely affect safety. This regulation is applicable under the airport regulations. An aircraft taking off, or attempting a takeoff with contaminated surfaces, is just as much of a hazard to the airport as an airport vehicle on the runway with an aircraft on approach. It is the responsibility of the airport to collect data about this hazard. As the final authority for an airport or airline SMS Enterprise, the accountable executive is to be responsible for operations or activities authorized under the certificate and accountable for meeting the requirements of the regulations. This includes justification to the regulator why or why not certain processes must be included or removed. 

On March 10, 1989 Air Ontario 1363 crashed shortly after takeoff due to ice contamination. The Final Report reads: “Modern air transportation is a complex enterprise. Similarly complex are the causes of aircraft accidents. Previous aircraft accident investigations have demonstrated that an accident or serious incident is not normally the result of a single cause, but rather the cumulative result of oversights, shortcuts, and miscues which, considered in isolation, might have had minimal causal significance. A properly functioning air transportation system with appropriate standards operates as an ongoing check against the circumstances that can give rise to an accident. It became clear from the evidence that, when one or more of the components in the system breaks down, the probability of an accident or serious incident is increased. The accident at Dryden on March 10, 1989, was not the result of one cause but of a combination of several related factors. Had the system operated effectively, each of the factors might have been identified and corrected before it took on significance. It will be shown that this accident was the result of a failure in the air transportation system.” 

Almost 30 years later the aviation industry as a hole are still struggling with broken systems learned from the Dryden accident. In 1989 the Safety Management System in aviation did not exists as a regulatory oversight. When there is not a formal SMS system in place, it becomes impossible to identify how there was a gap in the system causing the incident. The Dryden report identified intelligently and clearly that “an accident or serious incident is not normally the result of a single cause, but rather the cumulative result of oversights, shortcuts, and miscues which, considered in isolation, might have had minimal causal significance.”  At that time airlines managed safety by a simple principle of ensuring superior customer service to ensure the safe arrival at intended destination. With the implementation of SMS, the SMS system itself was expected to ensure safety in operations. A Safety Management System cannot fail since it paints a picture of the operations itself. What can malfunction within an SMS is a system to recognize processes which does not serve its purpose. This does not only apply to de-icing of aircraft prior to takeoff, but also includes the collection of hazards affecting aviation safety which goes beyond operational control or take on a role when the regulation itself is not board enough to include all future hazards to be identified. 

It is true that SMS is about aviation processes. However, the authority, or to which level safety is paramount, rests with one person only. This person is not always the accountable executive, but the person who within an organization has the power of authority. This person be a part of the organization itself but could also be a third-party person. This person may have other interests in mind than safety in operations since past records demonstrate a safe tracking record.  Everyone believe they are the key piece to keep aviation safe, but it is the person who demonstrates the best vocabulary who wins the deal.  


Drift in aviation is what a pilot from the days of NDB navigation understands. An NDB used for navigation always took the aircraft to its destination, but often by drift and correction to make it there safely. In the early days of an NDB they were broadcasting in morse codes to identify quadrants. Later an ADF with a needle pointing in its direction were installed in an aircraft. Great progress was made in air navigation. Also, an AM radio frequency could be used as a means of long-range navigation and was easily picked up 3-400 miles away. When navigating to an NDB, drift went undetected unless the pilot could comprehend the different systems and how one system affected the other. A sea captain navigating by lighthouses also comprehended drift in navigation, how to recognize drift and how to apply inputs for change. Both the Dryden and Fond Du Lac accidents were products of drift and the inability to recognize the drift itself. Drift is simply said how we do things. Drift is only recognized when there is an identified path to follow. At both Dryden and Fond Du Lac, the identified path to follow was an expectation to arrive at on time at the next destination. If the KWINK principle had been applied the captain would not have attempted the takeoff. KWINK is Knowing-What-I-Now-Know.


The KWINK system is a system to recognize drift, just as with navigating to an NDB, the pilot needs to correct their drift by doubling their correction track to take the most direct route. KWINK is for airline and airport operators to leap into the future and review their operational decisions. Taking a leap into the future is to review records and data from the past and apply to the next immediate task.   




Tuesday, November 16, 2021

How to Audit SMS

How to Audit SMS
By Catalina9

Conventional wisdom of how to audit the Safety Management System (SMS) is to generate an audit checklist based on regulatory requirements for an SMS, and develop expectations, or processes, in a checklist form to determine level of regulatory compliance. There are several itemized expectations for an SMS enterprise to audit every single aspect of operations for compliance. Auditing by expectations does not paint a true picture of an SMS enterprise level of compliance since an expectation audit does not audit for reliability. 

Research and development is the responsibility of an AE.
An airline or airport may be required to comply with hundreds of regulations in addition to just as many operational standards. One regulation may be compliant by applying several different operational methods, or expectations, which may be interpreted differently by inspectors, auditors or organizational management. When expectations are applied to an SMS audit, all operators are grouped into one expectation and that one-fits-all. Auditing by expectations is a hazard in itself, since an SMS enterprise may change their operational behavior to please the inspector’s or auditor’s checkbox, rather than trusting their own operational judgement. Auditing by expectation is also an avenue to group safety with ratings. A high rating number becomes equal to a high, or superior, level of safety. As an operational oversight system SMS paints a picture of results, or process outputs, and not of a predetermined input. A shopping list contains expectations or inputs, and when used correctly each item is checked off, but the condition, output, or quality of each item is unknown until after the shopping is done.  

The first level of audit of an SMS enterprise is to audit for scalability, or size and complexity. There is a regulatory requirement that a safety management system shall be adapted to the size, nature and complexity of the operations, activities, hazards and risks associated with the operations. Humans are great at making simple tasks complex, or even unmanageable. An unmanageable SMS is a system where hazards to operations are unknown. In an unmanageable SMS, or where an SMS is scaled beyond their operational needs, operations tend to drift towards informal, and simplified processes. An SMS workload is not the SMS itself, but research and develop to scale down systems to size and complexity for regulatory compliance, for safety in operations compliance, for compliance with operational needs and compliance with the SMS policy. An SMS system should be scaled to a level where it can be explained in just a few words. If an SMS enterprise is unable to explain how to maintain regulatory compliance and safety in operations, don’t expect the regulator to explain it for you.

A public speaker is a highly regarded expert.
 A speaker at an aviation safety conference made a statement that the regulator has decided to only issue findings against regulatory non-compliances and no longer issue findings to an SMS enterprise for non-compliance with their own internal manuals. That the regulator no longer plans to issue findings to an internal manual is a step in the right direction. When a finding is made to non-conformance with an internal manual an operator has two corrective action plan (CAP) options. The first is to make a change to the manual, or the second option to make a change to the process, or how things are done. Either way, the regulator must approve the CAP by directing what the manual text must read or direct the operator to what specific process they must implement. When the regulator mandates, or locks-in text or processes, they are interfering with the operators sole responsibilities pursuant to the regulations to operate with an SMS that is scaled to size and complexity. An benefit to an SMS enterprise when the regulator only issue finding to regulatory non-compliance is that they now have an opportunity to self-correct their own manuals or ineffective processes.

An accountable executive (AE) is responsible for operations authorized under the certificate and accountable on behalf of the mayor, council, airport authority, CEO, corporation or business owner for meeting the requirements of the regulations. In the regulations it states that an appointed AE must have control over human and financial resources. In the past, this regulation was interpreted by regulatory oversight that their only responsibilities was to apply cash to safety and hire personnel to do the jobs. As long as an AE could answer yes to these two questions, they passed their part of the audit. What was overlooked by the inspectors or auditors, was that an AE was not only responsible for cash and personnel, but also responsible for meeting all the other requirements under the regulations. When the regulator no longer issues findings for compliance with the SMS manual itself the manual or processes becomes much more flexible to change, and both airlines and airport operators having an opportunity to perform a true audit of their SMS enterprise. 

The second part of an audit is to audit for outputs, or results. Inputs for these audits are the daily, hourly, or frequently assigned operational tasks. Inputs are how the job is done and what tools are used to support these operational tasks. As an oversight system an SMS enterprise documents the results as they are completed, or at the time of their transactions. Just as upon completion of the shopping list, an itemized receipts and cash exchanged is documented at the time of transaction. Counting the cash is the first step in a quality control system for an upcoming financial audit. Counting outputs and results of an assigned task within an SMS world is a control system for a safety audit. In a financial audit, the auditors do not audit against expectations, how an organization plans to do their inputs, or if they are compliant with their expected inputs. In a financial audit the end result is audited by confirming receipts and financial entries. In a safety audit, the same process is followed by auditing the end results, or outputs, and confirmed by receipts, or data, and entries into the SMS system. An airline or airport conducts daily quality control, regular surveillance of their systems by random sampling and classifies their data to a level of security to preserve its integrity. The audit of an SMS then based on results and not based on virtual, or opinion-based expectations. SMS is to build a portfolio of safety.   




Monday, November 1, 2021

The Swiss Cheese

 The Swiss Cheese

By Catalina9

The other day when I was on my way to the store to buy swiss cheese and it was raining. I had opened my umbrella inside, walk under a ladder and a black cat crossed in front of me by the time I got to my car. My day was off to an unpredictable day. I purchased a block of swiss cheese and a package of sliced. I could not see the swiss cheese holes in the block, but I could see them in the sliced cheese, and all the holes were lined up. An unavoidable incident seems to be on the march in my direction today. I had opened an umbrella inside, walked under a ladder, black cat crossed in front of me and now all the holes in the swiss cheese lined up. And to make things worse, I embrace the principle that more is less and less is more. 

Umbrellas are attainable and measurable goals to be used for
a purpose.
An effective Safety Management System (SMS) is expected to run smoothly, and that safety will come by itself if we just do the right tings. The right thing is to find the holes in the swiss cheese and to stop the flow of accidents by plugging or diverting holes. If we make safety objectives and goals, we will be safe, or if we just remain vigilant, observant and follow the rules, we will also be safe. Accidents are built from a blueprint for a system to fulfil an undesired purpose, or aim, and the swiss cheese analogy is an imaginary description to simplify how integrated micro-systems builds accidents.

They key to a successful SMS is to accept that there are micro-systems within larger systems. These micro-systems are defined as at random, since there is no obvious logic to how they form or are placed within its own system. The definition of at random in the Marriam-Webster dictionary is without definite aim, direction, rule, or method, and lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern. Applying these micro-systems as random and unpredictable is how they must be applied within an SMS enterprise.  

A latter is a tool to reach new goals, so don’t walk
under it.
The swiss cheese principle is an exceptional good description of at random, or of how accidents are built and the many interactions of events that must take place to build up to the accident itself. However, this principle is only effective as a reactive tool for analysis after an accident, since when arriving at one hole, there is no road map or directions as what turn to take next to avoid lining up another swiss cheese hole. The swiss cheese analysis is non-directional, it is operating within a dark space and each hole in the cheese are individually and specifically placed within its own micro-system and without connections to current events. Holes in the swiss cheese may appear to be randomly placed, but they are systematically placed within its own micro-system produced by carbon dioxide. Each hole in the swiss cheese is a result of a cause which creates the effect. The cause is its own system within the swiss cheese creating these pockets of gas. From outside the swiss cheese, these holes may appear to pop-up randomly, while within the dark spaces of the micro-system itself their location placing becomes predictable

Conventional wisdom is that more is less, and less is more. Professional organizations are rigidly applying this principle in their decision-making process. When applied correctly, simplifying processes is a tool to achieve more. However, simplifying processes does not include a reduction in level of service, or removal of regulatory compliance processes. When more is less, and less is more, there is much more work, research, design, and project planning needed to produce a simplified system output on the front line.  

Looking for the black cat is active hazard identification
Safety in aviation is beyond being a miracle, a matter of luck or dreams come true. Everything happens for a reason, good or bad, positive, or negative. Accepting that at random are micro-systems affecting your goals, and that this system appears as at random is vital to the goal achievement process. If at random is without definite aim, direction, rule, or method, and lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern, then accidents are meaningless. A meaningless event has no purpose or reason. An accident is emotionally meaningless since there is no reason or purpose for people to be harmed or loss of life due to unexpected events. However, when applying meaningless, or without definite aim in an SMS organization it becomes impossible to establish cause and integrated factors of occurrences and unexpected events. That everything happens for a reason does not imply that events magically occur, is a statement that there are micro-systems affecting operations which cannot be determined, recorded, or predicted. In an SMS world, these systems are also defined as special cause variations.

A Regulator is responsible for the development and regulation of aeronautics and the supervision of all matters connected with aeronautics. When a new regulation comes into force, an airport or airline operator only have one choice to continue operations, which is to maintain compliance with the new regulation. Public opinions, political environment and aviation incidents are all triggers for new regulations. Over time these regulations add up to an overwhelming task for both airlines and airports. In addition, the regulations require an SMS enterprise to run a safety management system that is adapted to the size, nature and complexity of the operations, activities, hazards, and risks associated with the operations. More regulation and a scaled down SMS system are two opposing regulatory requirements.  

Scaling down an SMS enterprise is not to remove or decline specific regulations, but to combine operational tasks applicable to each regulatory requirement. Scaling down is to make your job as the Accountable Executive userfriendly and manageable for the SMS Manager. When regulations are performance based, an operator is obligated to demonstrate how their activities conform to the regulations. Demonstrating compliance is more than demonstrating compliance with one regulation, but to demonstrate how each task maintain compliance, and how any of these separate tasks does not interfere or causing non-compliance with other regulations.

The swiss cheese principle is a valuable analogy to describe actions, reactions and results of a micro-hazard travelling through the cheese and setting the main system up for failure by travelling through each hole in the swiss cheese. However, if an SMS enterprise establish a safety goal to avoid the swiss cheese holes and objectives are to navigate safely around the holes, they are doing the right thing, but operating with unmeasurable goals since the distance and directions to the holes are not measurable.  


Applying the principle that less is more and more is less gives the same output as the swiss cheese principle. Both principles come with a valuable application, but it is impossible to establish measurable goals from these principles. On the other hand, opening an umbrella inside, walking under a ladder or the black cat crossing, are all events that can be used to establish measurable goals. Find the umbrella, ladder, and black cat within your SMS enterprise micro-systems to build a portfolio of safety. 


Sunday, October 17, 2021

When SMS Becomes Inactive

When SMS Becomes Inactive 
By Catalina9

A Safety Management System (SMS) that is inactive will leave a void for an uncontrollable system to take its place. An SMS includes a variety of tasks and some of them are a safety policy, a process for setting goals, measuring the attainment of those goals, hazards and for evaluating and managing the associated risks, a process for personnel to be trained and competent, a process for internal reporting, a process for analyzing of hazards, incidents and accidents and for corrective action plans, an SMS manual, distribution of the SMS manual, a quality assurance program, periodic reviews or audits, developing safety cases and any additional regulatory requirements. An SMS is a comprehensive system, which must be scaled to size and complexity to conform to regulatory compliance. The scale down requirement is a process to Smarten Up SMS.

Smarten Up SMS is to avoid going to court.

Smarten Up SMS is not targeted to one area of the aviation industry, such as airports, but is a tool that can be applied to any specific regulatory requirement. Smarten Up SMS is therefore applicable specific to an enterprise’s operations certificate or regulatory compliance requirements. Simplification of the SMS is not to remove or ignore regulatory requirements, but to combine regulations into normal daily operational tasks. It is nothing but hard work to do research and development as a prerequisite for a successful SMS and then apply correct regulation to all activities.

A Safety Management System regulation is not directly applicable to non-SMS operators, but safety in operations comes with expectations that there are some sort of standards, processes, and systems in place to ensure an acceptable level of safety. Without standards, safety becomes opinion based and applied differently to the same scenarios.  When opinions are applied to safety, an airport, airline, or any other air operator have surrendered all their internal safety control to somebody else. “If you don't design Your Amazing Airport plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”  A voluntary compliance with the Safety Management System regulations is an acceptable process to maintain control of operations without relying on opinions to implement corrective action plans. Globally, the aviation industry is moving in a direction of a rating level system, where audit compliance and customer service becomes rating targets published. Just as a rating system is applied to all aspects of social media, it will also apply to internal safety levels, or safety cultures in aerodrome operators, airlines, flight schools, aerial applicators, or any areas of the aviation industry. Major and large organizations are already individually applying their own safety culture assessment of vendors, contractors, or service suppliers and basing their non-data assessment to level of services requested.   


In a healthy and functioning Safety Management System, data collection is a fundamental tool as a prerequisite for analysis and evaluation of corrective action plans. A second fundamental principle of a healthy SMS is incremental safety improvements, or continuous safety improvements. Safety in operations is not to make major changes, but to make small adjustments, or almost unnoticeable changes. SMS is to build a portfolio of safety. A regulatory requirement is to operate with a quality assurance program and include a process for quality assurance that includes periodic audits of activities and audits for cause, or on-demand audits. A third fundamental principle of a healthy Safety Management System is for an enterprise to capture data that supports adjustments. Since it is impossible to foresee future events, or when an event will occur, enterprise must maintain a daily quality control system. Depending on size and complexity of operations, several tailored, individual, or operational specific daily quality control systems may be needed. 


An Enterprise runs a business with an accountant, a financial manager, a chief executive officer, an office administrator, or any other position that helps promote the business for a higher return on investment. SMS is a businesslike approach to safety where the SMS Manager has a responsibility to monitor and evaluate results, which requires a daily journey log of activities affecting operational safety. An enterprise would not in a million years think about coming into a financial audit without being prepared for the audit and without showing records of how they prepared themselves daily for compliance. But, when it comes to airports or airlines, they enter into an SMS audit without having prepared one single item. With this approach many operators failed their third-party rating audits and regulatory inspections. When management comes unprepared for an audit or oversight inspection, their Safety Management System has become inactive, and an uncontrolled system will fill this void. 

A healthy SMS has fulfilled its daily quota.

A healthy Safety Management System is prepared for the approaching rating trend, where a rating becomes the determining factor to be awarded contracts or public confidence of an operational safety culture. They come prepared by the Accountable Executive (AE) being responsible for meeting the requirements of the regulations on behalf of an airport authority, city or town council, the mayor, or the CEO of an airline. This responsibility includes research and development, design, implementation, and oversight of a quality control system. The responsibility for an AE goes far beyond having control over financial and human resources. An AE is responsible to maintain regulatory compliance, which is to conduct ongoing audits, analysis of audits, corrective action plans (CAP) of findings, and monitor drift. In a prepared enterprise the SMS Manager is responsible for management of the SMS systems that is put in place by the Accountable Executive and implement all assigned tasks by their roles and responsibilities. When ratings are approach from within the organization, there is a functioning and healthy SMS. When an SMS is approached to please the rating or make changes due to demands from a customer or auditor, their SMS has become inactive, and the uncontrolled system will fill that void.

Monitoring the aviation industry is an enormous task and a regulatory requirement the AE must comply with. Weather is the one single most important factors impacting the aviation industry, being airlines, air operators or aerodromes. There is not much one can do about the weather, but the actions taken, or CAPs applied (e.g. timely snow removal, de-icing, low visibility etc.) is crucial for successful operations. The Cranbrook BC crash on February 11, 1978, during a snowstorm, is an example of how lessons learned were about improving clear and precise communication. 

The tasks an AE has is to find all pieces and  analyze them for applicability

The following are examples of some of the tasks an airport AE has to maintain regulatory compliance. These tasks includes monitoring the aviation industry, monitor drift and for the AE to maintain a quality control system including public weather, METAR/TAF, GFA, ICING, flight conditions, field image, radar, local live and forecasted surface winds, sunrise and sunset for day or night operations, or plan of construction operations, monitoring enroute overhead flights (e.g. medical emergencies), a toolbox with links to frequently used documents and forms, AMSCR records, CADORS records, CADORS airfield tenants, procedures for the exchange of information in respect of hazards, incidents and accidents among the operators of aircraft and the provider of air traffic services at the airport and the airport operator), daily inspection records, active NOTAM, historical NOTAM, proposed and new regulations monitored weekly, airside operations plans tailored to airside operations, tenants safety concerns and comments, the public concerns and comments, regulatory inspections, planned, open or closed, calendar with current events, NOTAM Manual, AIM Manual, aeronautical obstructions assessments, TP312E 5Th training, airside training, airport operations training, monthly newsletter, monthly SMS posts, SMS performance monthly, monitoring the aviation industry, airport surveillance of airside activities for safety and regulatory compliance, bird and wildlife reporting and handling, airport emergency plan and any other management or operational subject an airline, air operator, airport operator, aerodrome operator, flight school or aerial applicator requests to be added.            

An inactive SMS is not an SMS that is inoperative, but an SMS  where there is dereliction of duty for complete regulatory compliance. Their task is so enormous that it is impossible to run a healthy SMS without a confidential adviser to the AE. The duty of a confidential adviser to the accountable executive, is to act in the best interest of the accountable executive and to fill the void of an inactive SMS.



Thursday, September 30, 2021

Smarten Up SMS

 Smarten Up SMS

By Catalina9

We don’t manage risks. We lead personnel, manage equipment, and validate operational design for improved performance above the safety risk level bar. A businesslike approach to safety is to lead the Safety management system in the direction of your visions, goals, and services. Running SMS like a businesslike approach to safety is to Smarten Up SMS. Smarten up SMS is not to ignore or take away regulatory requirements, or jeopardize safety in operations, but it is to make the Safety management system a userfriendly application for the Accountable Executive, SMS Managers, and all other personnel. Smarten Up SMS is applicable to both SMS-operators and non-SMS operators since it is a tool to apply safety in operations.

Smarten Up SMS is a choice at the fork in the road
Smarten Up SMS is based on the regulations that a safety management system shall be adapted to the size, nature and complexity of the operations, activities, hazards, and risks associated with the operation. A Safety management system that is too complex for operations, does not conform to regulatory requirements. The goal of Smarten Up SMS is to operate with a daily quality control program for compliance with the regulations and a prerequisite for a quality assurance program. The objective of Smarten Up SMS is to maintain ongoing regulatory compliance and safety in operations.

There are three parts to a Safety Management System. The first part is for the accountable executive to be responsible for meeting the requirements of the regulations on behalf of the airport authority, city, or town council, the mayor and city administrator, the aerodrome, the airline, aerial applicator or flight training unit. This responsibility includes research and development and the implementation of a daily quality control program.

The second part is for the SMS manager to be responsible for management of the SMS systems and implement plans researched, developed, and designed by the accountable executive. The SMS manager implement a reporting system to ensure the timely collection of information related to hazards, incidents and accidents that may adversely affect safety, identify hazards and carry out risk management analyses of those hazards, investigate, analyze and identify the cause of all hazards, incidents and accidents. The SMS manager also implement an electronic safety data collection system and an electronic analysis system to monitor and analyze trends in hazards, incidents, and accidents. Analyze trends in hazards is different than analyze trends of hazards. Trends of hazards is an enumeration of hazards identified, while trends in hazards are to first identify the effect a hazard has on operations. This can be achieved by defining safety critical areas and safety critical functions in operations. If, over a period of 30 days, 100 highway cones were observed on an airport ramp, there are 100 hazards identified, or one trend of hazards over that period. When applying trends in hazard these highway cones become multiple trends, since the trends may be obstructions to aircraft, obstructing the view, or distractions to pedestrians, vehicles, or aircraft operations. An SMS manager must monitor and evaluate the results of corrective actions, monitor the concerns of the civil aviation industry in respect of safety and their perceived effect on safety, and determine the adequacy of the training required for all personnel. 

Smarten Up SMS is to observe.

The third part of a safety management system is for all operational personnel to take part in the SMS, where operations are observed, reports are submitted, and assigned corrective actions are implemented. 

A daily quality control program is based on a simple principle that if the regulations are not broad enough to capture all aspects of their operation, the operator is responsible for safety in operations and must add additional safety levels to ensure an acceptable level of safety. The principle of Smarten Up SMS is to operate with a userfriendly system for the end-user, places a high workload on the accountable executive to conduct comprehensive research and development.  

The SMS regulations is a helpful tool for operators to document and establish processes that works. SMS is an oversight regulation and is therefore applicable to all aspects, or regulatory requirements of all airport or airline operations. As an example: A daily inspection at an airport is not a regulatory requirement but becomes a tool under the SMS regulation to comply with airport standards. An aerodrome operator, aerial applicator, flight school or airline are all required to comply with their own parts of the regulations and must have tools in place for compliance. Even though the SMS regulations is not applicable to all of these operations, it is a helpful tool to apply to ensure compliance with their specific applicable regulations. 

An operator may voluntarily use the SMS tools as their process control for compliance. Since the SMS tool are already available, and operators have access to use the systems, there is no need to begin new research and development to design a system to implement in their own operations.

It is vital for success for airports and airlines operations that they have a third party to represent their interest at audits, inspections, or onsite regulatory oversight activities. Corrective action plans (CAP), including research, development and presentation are extremely labor intensive and costly for both large and small operators. Develop and design CAP takes away time for safety in operation.

Smarten Up SMS is when nobody is in the office, but where everyone is away working.

The aviation industry has already moved into a rating level system, where audit compliance and customer service become your rating targets published. Just as a rating system is applied to all aspects of social media, it is also applied to aerodrome operators, airlines, flight schools or aerial applicators. Smarten Up SMS is not about what your SMS is, or who you are, but about who you must become.


Monday, September 20, 2021

SMS Authority

 SMS Authority

By Catalina9

A Safety Management System plays a role in the organizational charts for both airport and airlines, but without overriding any other regulatory requirements the SMS is an administrative tool rather than a safety improvement tool. Since the SMS being a businesslike approach to safety, poor decision makings are allowed, and losses are acceptable. In addition to other regulations, the regulator must verify that airports and airlines comply with all regulations and not just the SMS regulations. This could create conflicts between the SMS regulations and operational regulations. 

It is a lonely road for an AE to find hidden SMS facts.

The two avenues of a Safety Management System are the regulatory and operations avenues. The regulatory avenue includes oversight, policies, systems, research, development, design, compliance, project solutions leadership motivation, quality control, audits, and quality assurance. The operations side of the SMS are processes, procedures, implementation and maintenance, training, data collection, analyses, review, and communication. Oversight is by the Accountable Executive (AE) and operations is by the SMS Manager. 

The two regulatory requirements to act as the AE are that they have control of financial and human resources that are necessary operations. These requirements are different than roles and responsibilities of an AE, since they are only the authority to act as Accountable Executive. Their roles and responsibilities are defined in the regulations as to be accountable on behalf of an airport authority, a mayor, a city council, a corporation, a business, or a person for meeting the requirements of the regulations. Depending on size and complexity of an airport or airline, an Accountable Executive is responsible for between 250-500 regulations. This responsibility is much greater than the asserted responsibility over financial and human resources.  


The roles and responsibilities of an SMS Manager are operational in nature. Their responsibilities under the regulations are defined as being responsible for implementation of a reporting system to ensure the timely collection of information related to hazards, incidents and accidents that may adversely affect safety. Timely collection may be different today than yesterday and may look very different tomorrow. When SMS was first invented, timely delivery was by fax. If someone sends a fax today, their report might not arrive on the SMS Manager’s desk. 


Another responsibility is to identify hazards and carry out risk analyses of the hazards. This responsibility is so huge that it is almost impossible to comprehend. Identification of hazards are not defined in the regulations as an opinion, but actually of factual hazards. A hazard identified one day is still a hazard the next day. When hazards are identified an SMS Manager has a responsibility to investigate, analyze and identify the root cause of all hazards, incidents and accidents identified. The regulatory requirement is not to identify the root cause of selective hazards, but to identify the root cause of all hazards. 


An effective SMS needs a safety data system to be implemented by electronic or other means. This is another responsibility of the SMS Manager. When this requirement was first implemented a paperformat safety data system was acceptable, but as the SMS evolved it became unmanageable as a paperformat system and electronic databases were used. Over time this system also became obsolete since electronic spreadsheets could be manipulated or corrupted by adding or removing data. There are several SMS cloudbased services available, the comprehensive task is to select one that do not demand control over your Safety Management System. There are only a handful cloudbased data collection tools that let you maintain full control over your own SMS.  


This leads us to the next responsibility is that the SMS Manger implements a safety data system to monitor and analyze trends. Monitoring is to maintain regular surveillance over events, and to do this at uniform intervals. Monitoring events does do very little to improve safety. After data is collected it is turned into information to be absorbed by one, or all, of the five senses. When absorbed, information turns into knowledge, which is used to analyze for trends. When trends are known, the SMS Manager has a tool to comprehend interconnected links. This tool is also available to the SMS Manager as a tool to monitor and evaluate the results of corrective actions implemented from the analysis. 

Concerns of the aviation industry may vary with experience.

The most comprehensive responsibility that an SMS Manager has is to monitor the concerns of the civil aviation industry in respect of safety and their perceived effect on an airport or airline. There are several responsibilities applied to this regulatory requirement. The first task is to decide what to monitor, another task is to decide when to monitor, with a third task where to monitor, e.g. locally or globally, the next task is define in details why to monitor, in addition to the regulatory requirement, and who should monitor. Monitoring might not be done by the SMS Manager, but could be assigned to dispatch, flight following or airside maintainer. The final task is to decide how to monitor the aviation industry. 

Other responsibility an SMS Manger has is to determine the adequacy of the training required by the SMS Manager and for personnel assigned duties under the safety management system. A person with any responsibility for an aircraft operating airside at an airport or a person with airside responsibilities are personnel assigned duties under the SMS. This includes both the Accountable Executive and SMS Manger in addition to other workers with roles and responsibilities for the safe operations of an aircraft or airport. 

With all these SMS responsibilities both airline operations, or airside regulations will overrule SMS proactive actions. A requirement at an airport is to maintain obstacle free zones for approach surfaces and transitional surfaces. When an SMS identified that tall trees or construction cranes are almost penetrating these surfaces and should be removed as a precautionary action, the overall decisions in the past were that since these obstructions legally conform, they must not be removed or restricted. The same scenario could be applied to a damaged, but legally conforming engine, a stress-damaged wing that is legally conforming, or the tailstrike damage to Air China 601 accident. If SMS is given its intended regulatory powers by an airline or airport will be documented in how recovery in aviation after a pandemic is given accountability to legally conforming concerns. Both pilots and maintenance crew are experiencing the old effect of being “bushed”.  As an old bush-pilot, I've seen people get "bushed" living in the middle of nowhere for months and they would do unthinkable things. What the global aviation industry must comprehend is that pilots and mechanics are being “bushed” by quarantine and other enforced pandemic demands. Since the regulations is not broad enough to include, or cover this aspect of aviation safety, it becomes the responsibility of the airlines and airports to ensure that SMS is allowed to function as intended and capture every “almost” in aviation. 



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