Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Safety Management Systems (SMS)

Safety Management Systems (SMS)

Safety Management Systems (SMS) A Safety Management System (SMS) is a set of processes and practices to enable airlines and airports to reduce safety-related events and increase their operating efficiency. This article provides information and resources related to SMS for airlines, airports, aviation maintenance (AMOs, MROs), flight schools and general aviation.

What is an Aviation SMS?

Safety Management Systems (SMS) provide a framework to help airlines and airports achieve their safety goals through consistent control of their operations and cultural change in the mindset of their employees. Empirical evidence suggests this increased control and cultural change will improve the safety performance of the airline and airport and protect assets and customers. An SMS program by itself does not establish a level of safety performance that must be achieved; each airline or airport's SMS is tailored to the business and goals of each participating airline or airport. The complexity of the SMS is "dependent on the complexity" of the subject airline or airport.

Basic SMS Under ICAO 9859

An SMS helps airlines and airports to address its regulatory demands in a systematic and cost-effective manner. An initial, followed by a more proactive approach can help reduce the risk of non-compliance and improve health and safety practices for employees and the public.

An SMS can also help address non-regulated issues, such as asset protection. Aviation SMS programs often promotes stronger operational control and employees' sense of ownership while ensuring airline and airport operations remain safe as reasonably practical.

Basic Elements of an Aviation SMS:

  • Reviewing the airline or airport safety goals
  • Analyzing safety impacts and legal requirements
  • Setting safety objectives to reduce safety impacts and comply with legal requirements
  • Establishing programs to meet these safety objectives
  • Monitoring and measuring progress in achieving the objectives
  • Ensuring employees' safety awareness and competence
  • Reviewing progress of the SMS and making continuous improvements

Costs and Benefits of an Aviation SMS

Potential Costs of an Aviation SMS

Internal costs

  • Staff (manager) time
  • Other employee time
  • Aviation SMS software*

(Note: Internal labor costs represent the bulk of the SMS resources expended by most organizations)
*While not required, highly recommended to save management time to easily generate reports, track safety issues, automate notifications

External costs

  • Potential consulting assistance
  • Outside training of personnel

Potential Benefits of an Aviation SMS

  • Improved safety performance
  • Enhanced compliance
  • Accident prevention
  • Employee retention
  • New customers/markets
  • Increased efficiency/reduced costs
  • Enhanced employee morale
  • Enhanced image with public, regulators, lenders, investors
  • Employee awareness of safety issues and responsibilities

Resources for Aviation Safety Management Systems

Additional information on the benefits and costs of developing SMSs can be found in the following websites:
Aviation Safety Management Systems (SMS) Software SMS Pro
Aviation SMS Software Best for Airlines & Airports
Aviation Safety Management Software

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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