Thursday, June 13, 2013

Implementing Aviation Safety Management Systems

Aviation Safety Management Systems Implementation

An aviation safety management system (SMS) encourages airlines and airports to continuously improve safety performance. Aviation safety management systems can be viewed as repeating cycles. Airlines or airports first commit to a safety policy, then uses their safety policy as a basis for establishing a plan, which sets objectives and targets for improving safety performance. The next step is implementation. After that, airlines and airports evaluate safety performance to determine whether goals and objectives are being met. When objectives are not met, corrective actions must be implemented. The results of the internal audit evaluation are then reviewed by top management to determine whether the SMS is functioning as designed. Management revisits the safety policy and sets new targets in a revised plan. Airlines and airports then implement their revised plan. The cycle repeats, and continuous improvement occurs.

The five main stages of an aviation SMS, can be described as:

1. Commitment and Policy of Aviation Safety Management Systems

Top management commits to safety improvement and establishes an aviation safety policy. The aviation safety policy is the foundation of the airline and airports' SMS program.

2. Planning Successful Aviation Safety Management Systems

Airlines and airports first identify safety gaps and aspects of its operations using an industry accepted gap

analysis model. Safety aspects are those items, such as bird strikes or lost time injuries, that can have negative impacts on people, assets or the environment. Airlines and airports then determine which aspects are significant by choosing criteria considered most important and identify these aspects as their key performance indicators, also known as safety performance indicators. For example, an airline may choose employee lost time injuries, customer complaints, bird strikes, mission delays, and cost as its criteria. Once significant safety aspects are determined, airlines and airports establish objectives. Objectives are measurable safety goals (e.g., minimize customer injuries by 20%). The final part of the planning stage is devising an action plan for meeting the objectives. This includes designating responsibilities, establishing a schedule, and outlining clearly defined steps to meet the objectives.

3. Implementation of a Successful Aviation Safety Management System

Airlines and airports follow through with the action plan using the necessary resources (human, financial, etc.). An important component is employee training and awareness for all employees. Other steps in the implementation stage include documentation, following operating procedures, and setting up internal and external communication lines.

4. Evaluation of Aviation Safety Management Systems

Airlines and airports continuously monitor operations to evaluate whether objectives are being met. If not, the operator takes corrective action.

5. Review of Aviation Safety Management Systems

Top management reviews the results of the evaluation to ensure whether the aviation SMS is working. Management determines whether the original safety policy is consistent with the airline or airport's values. The plan may be revised to optimize the effectiveness of the SMS. The review stage creates a loop of continuous improvement for airlines and airports.

Additional Information on Aviation Safety Management Systems

Aviation Safety Management Software

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™.

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