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.