Saturday, May 18, 2013

Five Aviation SMS Training Mistakes to Avoid

Aviation SMS Training Mistakes to Avoid

Lesson Learned: Aviation safety training remains an important part of aviation SMS implementation plans and other aviation SMS initiatives, such as recurrent training. However, SMS training is seldom welcome by the entire airline or airport staff. Here are five common SMS training mistakes to avoid when training your airline or airport staff.

Aviation SMS Training Responsibilities

Aviation safety managers are responsible for training staff throughout the airline or airport. Examples include:
online aviation safety management system (SMS) training
Aviation SMS Training

Challenges/Risks in Providing Aviation SMS Training

One common challenge has always been to excite airline/airport staff enough to listen to the aviation SMS training. It becomes frustrating for managers and employees to make time for your aviation SMS training and when they do attend training, information frequently goes in one ear and out the other. In short, this challenge is a "real risk!"

online aviation safety management system (SMS) training for airlines, airports, MROs, FBOs, flight schools
How can safety managers mitigate this risk? One attitude is for airlines and airports to skip basic SMS training altogether. A skeptical observer can easily surmise that in-depth SMS training to many end uses is a waste of time. All the earnest, good-faith efforts of conscientious safety managers to increase user awareness and education is doing nothing to make airlines and airports more safe.

Others believe that SMS training is still an important part of aviation safety and other aviation SMS implementation initiatives. In this case, safety managers should modify their approach to SMS training to ensure the airline or airport's investment has a more positive impact.

When your airline or airport is providing SMS training, try to avoid these common aviation SMS training mistakes:

1. Focusing on Airline/Airport Benefits Instead of Employee

Aviation SMS training is to help the airline or airport, whether by protecting stakeholders (pax, crew) or making sure employees have the necessary skills to work safely. When SMS training courses focus solely on why it's important for your airline or airport, employees seldom pay close attention. Examples may include reducing costs and enhancing the reputation of the airline or airport.

Instead, SMS training information should possess a personal element. This may include offering tips and tricks how employees can keep safe from electrical burns that also apply at home, or telling them what effect losses due to aircraft delays might have on employee salaries. When training airline or airport employees to to use equipment, it’s critical to point out why knowing how to use it properly will benefit them. Without providing personal touches, the audience tends to zone out more readily, especially when talking about the abstract safety management principles in aviation SMS programs.

2. Providing Safety Training Incentives Improperly

online aviation safety management system (SMS) training for airlines, airports, MROs, FBOs, flight schools
Many aviation safety managers entice employees to pay attention to SMS training or safety procedures by offering incentives to employees demonstrating they understand safety information. These incentives may include financial rewards or gifts for safe behavior, or penalties for violating safety policies and procedures.

Harvard researchers say offering a small reward up front and then take it away when goals and objectives aren't met proves to be a more effective incentive-offering strategy. Employees appear to be more motivated to avoid losing something than by the slight possibility of earning rewards.

3. Providing Same Aviation SMS Training to All Employees

Even though everyone has something to learn, safety managers should never ignore the fact that some employees know more about technology than others. Frequently, employees complain about being forced to sit through a lot of basic information they already know. This is a legitimate complaint. Case in point: some employees don't know what double-click or refresh your screen means.

Therefore, for many SMS training activities involving Web based aviation safety management software, it may help to separate employees into different groups based on their technical expertise and prior computer knowledge. This keeps tech savvy users from falling asleep during the really basic stuff, and prevent others from getting lost when sessions move too quickly.

Also, it often helps to group employees based on job functions or SMS role. For example, employees with different levels of access to safety information should be attending different training sessions, such as internal auditors, department heads and safety managers.

4. Choosing Safety Managers With Inadequate Speaking Skills

Aviation safety managers aren't always the smoothest or most entertaining speakers. Providing aviation SMS training requires both strong subject matter expertise and the ability to convey that information that users can understand. College professors realize that students want to be entertained when attending courses. Therefore, employees attending SMS training probably have similar expectations.

Whenever aviation SMS training is provided by in house safety managers, communication skills must be considered when choosing the safety manager to provide the SMS training. When there are multiple safety managers with subject matter expertise, some may make better trainers than others. Furthermore, whenever adequate training skills are lacking, prospective SMS trainers should ask for advice from others who are accustomed to public speaking. Attending Toastmaster groups is highly recommended to hone public speaking skills, which are valuable in providing effective aviation SMS training.
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5. Allowing Employees to Think There's Nothing New to Learn

Another of the biggest obstacles to providing effective and lasting aviation SMS training, is some employee's attitude that they know everything and have nothing new to learn. This is especially risky when it comes to recurring SMS training, as many employee injuries occur to airline and airport staff that have many years experience.

Safety managers who are also proving aviation SMS training can prove this point is by conducting in-house safety tests. For example, safety managers can fabricate a potentially unsafe atmosphere and see how many employees neglect to practice proper safety procedures. This exercise not only alerts employees to their own vulnerabilities, but these results should also alert upper management and show them why aviation safety training is worthwhile.

About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. In 2007, NWDS developed SMS Pro™ a web based SMS application that supports an organization's overall SMS through safety reporting, safety documentation, safety risk management and safety assurance. SMS Pro™ is currently used by aviation organizations in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East to help manage their SMS programs. NWDS continues to support SMS Pro™ and add new functionality. NWDS offers custom contract programming services in the U.S. and Canada and is managed by Chris Howell, one of the founders. Their headquarters is in Anchorage, Alaska. For information on NWDS visit their website at and to learn more about SMS Pro™.

1 comment:

  1. The biggest problem I experience, in SMS and QA Training in the Aviation industry, is finding key people with the "skills" to teach. Not only do the SMS team have to have the ability to teach but, also the managers of the departments must have some kind of Facilitation skills. Lack of communication in a company is like a cancer. The article is great in bringing to light the training mistakes in SMS.