Monday, May 17, 2021

Training Works

Training Works

By Catalina9

When applying the fact that training is associated with Human Performance, ongoing training becomes a tool to capture process deviations from performance parameters. Deviations from performance parameters are not lack of knowledge, but it is a human factor to take the path of least resistance and to deviate for effectiveness to reach a common goal. Most standardized processes are arbitrarily chosen based on opinions. This does not make the process wrong, bad, incorrect, or dangerous, it is just the fact that someone established the process based on their experience and personal view of what to them made sense. From these processes, rules and job performance expectations are derived to establish the lowest bar acceptable in aviation safety. One example of a new rule that was implemented after an accident was the sterile cockpit rule. This rule was implemented due to one notable accident which caused a crash just short of the runway conducting an instrument approach in dense fog. Training is a tool to assess the effectiveness of standardized procedures, capture deviations and excel in performance above the lowest acceptable safety bar.    

Training is time sensitive
Training is to prepare the Safety Management System (SMS) for tomorrow, which will be different than what it is today. A future SMS enters into a commitment agreement with the flying public, the regulator, airports, and airlines to accept nothing less than excellence in operational processes. Excellence is not to be perfect and operate in a virtual, or fantasy world. Excellence is incremental improvements of safety processes. SMS is not to show that we always get everything right, but to show that we can build a portfolio of safety even when we get it wrong. A fully potential SMS operates with a businesslike approach to safety where losses are
 accounted for and profits are rewarded.

The days of SMS as we know it is taking a new course into a professional SMS management direction. Just like an organization is relying on lawyers and accountants, organizations have come to a point when they need to rely on SMS experts to oversee, administer and manage their SMS. It is no longer enough to run a professional SMS organization because the SMS Manager wants to be safe. SMS has become more complex and needs to be managed by professional SMS experts. COVID19 was the catalyzer which moved SMS at rocket speed in a new direction. In the blink of an eye the world changed from virtual fun and games to a virtual corporate culture as their businesslike approach platform.  

One component that is critical for a successful SMS is training of the Accountable Executive to comprehend SMS as a businesslike approach and, most important, that the AE title does not qualify a person as a professional SMS expert. The regulations stats that no person is to be appointed as the AE unless they have control of the financial and human resources that are necessary for the activities and operations authorized under the certificate. The brilliancy of this regulation is that an AE is an SMS team member within the organization, and to be responsible for operations and accountable on behalf of the enterprise for meeting the requirements. This requirement does not make the AE the sole expert but leaves the door wide open for an AE to be surrounded by experts at any level in the organization. As the final authority, as opposed to the final decision-maker, the AE can with confidence sign off on the SMS for regulatory compliance and safety in operations. Just as the CEO of an enterprise signs off on legal and tax documents, the AE’s role is to sign off on SMS documents. SMS is the overarching umbrella, or the hub of a wheel where the processes lead a path of safety improvements.  

Conventional wisdom is that training is required because of regulatory requirements, and that someone who does the same tasks daily should know how to do it without require training. Nothing could be farther from the facts that this is the only reason for training. There are several elements to training process, which one of them is refresher training of personnel who does the same task daily. Refresher training has two main goals; 1) Evaluate a skill; and 2) Evaluate drift within an organization. Short term corrective actions are applied to skill test training findings, i.e., additional training of personnel who failed, while policy changes are applied to organizational drift findings. During the old way of SMS training, if several of the pilots failed their missed approach task during training, each person who failed would require additional training until they successfully passed the missed approach task once. In the new-SMS era, training of each pilot would continue until their success became persistent. In addition, the missed approach training program would be reviewed for drift, or what would be the expected outcome based on the missed approach training process. If the expected outcome of a process deviated from the expectation of outcome, drift is discovered and a change in training policy required.  

Training is to train for resilience.
Training serves several other functions, and one of them is to train for what is not expected to happen. It makes sense that glider pilots are trained to make off-airport landing for every flight. Even though the Captain does not have power available, their power plant is a power-reversal by spoiler applications. A glider can speed up or slow down by applying speed brakes. Glider training benefited the Captain of the Gimli Glider several years later. In 1983 a Boeing 767 was gliding from FL410 after fuel starvation. When fueling the aircraft, the fuel volume was displayed in litres, while the fueler expected it to be displayed in gallons, with the effect that the 767’s fuel load was 25% of required load. The fuel supplier had drifted away from their expected outcome, or what number was expected to be displayed when fully fueled. Resources from the Captain’s glider training kicked in and they successfully landed at an abandoned airstrip. The same principle is true for the Hudson River landing in 2009. Resources from the Captain’s prior decision-making training kicked in and assisted in a successful outcome. Just a few weeks ago glider aircraft landed in a lake after the tow-airplane lost power shortly after takeoff. All these examples are examples of events that were not expected to happen, and that training works when unexpected events occur. It could be missed approach training, glider training, decision-making process training, or any other training, are training of resilience with an expectation that resources become available when they are needed.

Training works when a candidate learns that they are consistently capable of completing a task successfully. During the old-SMS, a task completed once was all that was required, while in the new era of SMS, training is the success of completing a task over and over again. SMS training is to build confidence as a resilience tool when things go wrong, and unexpected resources must become available to a person. Resilience training also includes training of the Accountable Executive to comprehend the SMS without being overwhelmed with details. 



Monday, May 3, 2021

Teamwork Simplified

 Teamwork Simplified

By Catalina9

In aviation, both airlines and airports, teamwork is the foundation for an organization to function within a Safety Management System (SMS). A common expectation is that everyone must unconditionally “take one for the team” for the team to win or succeed. When someone “take one for the team” they are expected to willingly undertake an unpleasant task or make a personal sacrifice for the collective benefit of one's friends or colleagues. Should someone reject this notion that it is moral or necessarily for them to sacrifice their emotions, they will more than likely be kicked off the team. 

A scale is balanced by the SMS policy.
 Conventional wisdom is that there is “no I in team”.   This is as far from the fact that it could be. There will   always be an “I” in a team. The “I” could be by their   position of authority, by their vocabulary, by their   technical expertise or simply by their reputation within   the organization. Until the Safety Management System   came along, it was the “I” in the team who had control   over the masses. They would use the “safety card” and   imply that anyone who opposed their opinion of safety   were against safety and should be silenced in the   conversation. Playing the “safety card” is when   someone is making references to safety as a tool to   further their opinions and gain control of the conversation. An operational plan in aviation is called the safety management system for that exact reason. A safety management system in aviation is not about safety, but about process design, management, and oversight. The outcome of these SMS tasks are expected reduce, or even eliminate unexpected events and therefore we are safe. 

In 1912 an unsinkable ship left on a journey across the North Atlantic. A few years earlier Captain Smith’s own words were that “When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experiences of nearly forty years at sea, I merely say uneventful. I have never been in an accident of any sort worth speaking about....I never saw a wreck and have never been wrecked, nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.” Everyone’s opinion was correct, in that the Titanic could not sink, since the experts who designed it said so, and they were in the good hands of Captain Smith. As we all know, the Titanic went down, but not because someone failed to complete a task, but because the system worked the way it was designed to work. NOTE: The system didn’t work as expected, but as designed. The team who designed the ship and operational process were in agreement and could therefore not be wrong. A safety statement in advertising is to persuade their team that a million people cannot be wrong. Any person who does not accept this statement is shunned or rejected by the group. A team was in the pre-SMS days a group of experts where the person with the best vocabulary or authority made an opinion-based decision and called it a team decision. 

Behind every door is a virtual reality attendee with facts to be discovered.
Over time virtual reality meetings or conferences has become the acceptable platform for meeting. Just a few months ago virtual meetings were infrequent and used as a last resort but changed very quickly. From small organizations to international level conferences, meetings are today conducted via virtual attendance. The aviation industry also adapted quickly to this platform where attendees are now placed in separate rooms or even separate locations across the globe. The transition from old-fashion meetings to virtual attendance just happened without conducting a safety case or change management analysis. Just as the Titanic was unsinkable, transitioning to virtual attendance was to be a flawless transition. 

An analysis of a transition to virtual attendance shows that teamwork has become much more team platform oriented and reduced the “I” from the team. Attendees now has an opportunity to raise their concerns, opinions, or suggestions by their physical distance from the other team members. There is also an opportunity for everyone to make their voice heard by anonymous submissions. Virtual attendance has opened a new door to the Safety Management System where facts are forced to be analyzed, rather than someone needs to “take one for the team”.  In a virtual conference environment, the other option but to accept inputs from everyone on the team, is to end the meeting. This unexpected change of personal involvement is a positive change to the aviation industry and hazard identification. 

An opportunity is delivered on a blank sheet of paper.
An enterprise operating within an SMS-world is required to implement a non-punitive policy, or a policy that differences of options cannot be punished. Since the beginning of SMS, in 2006 when Canada as the first country implemented the SMS regulations, a non-punitive policy was expected to be applied to airline or airport operations for hazard or incident reporting. This policy often came with a caveat that it would not be applied to illegal activity, negligence, or wilful misconduct. The intent, or expectation of the non-punitive policy was to protect a person when involved or observed unexpected events of job performance. A non-punitive policy is integrated in the safety policy on which the SMS system is based. The non-punitive policy was not considered to applied to meetings or teamwork, since it was a flight crewmember or airside worker who would fail their tasks and not the management who designed the systems. 

In a regulatory world the Safety Management System is applicable to an air operator certificate and an airport certificate. Any person who is without a role or responsibility in operations or management of these certificates may be excluded from the non-punitive policy. E.g., someone maintaining offices may be excluded, while someone maintaining an aircraft, or the airfield must be included. The Accountable Executive, CEO, or President are included, any management levels are included, and any operational and support levels are included in the non-punitive policy. However, senior management were excluded from the caveat that a non-punitive policy should be applied for illegal activity, negligence, or wilful misconduct. 

The “I” in team still exists within an SMS system and cannot be removed or ignored. The “I” in team is the SMS policy, the SMS non-punitive policy, objectives, goals, and parameters. Virtual reality attendance meetings have improved the opportunity for attendees to assign data, information, knowledge and their comprehension of systems to policies and objectives and bypass the gatekeeper’s opinion. Virtual attendance has placed the “I” in team where it should be, which is in the Safety Policy Team. When the Safety Policy is the focus of the discussion, teamwork is simplified.      


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