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.



Accepting or Rejecting Risks

  Accepting or Rejecting Risks By OffRoadPilots A ccepting or rejecting risks is a fundamental principle in a successful safety management s...