Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aviation SMS App for Airlines, Airports, Flight Schools

Aviation SMS Software App For Managing Airline & Airport Safety

This post comes from a common question regarding aviation SMS apps for portable devices.

Is There an SMS Pro App to Report Hazards in Offline Mode?

Question: "Our aircrew are going to iPads in the next few weeks. I discussed with our IT person here that I would like IT to put an “icon” of the SMS-Pro web site on it. They said no problem, but then asked me if there was an actual app available."

aviation safety management software app for airlines airports aviation maintenance mro amo
"App" is an ambiguous term that has become commonplace. Initially, it was referred to device specific programs, such as IPhone, IPad and Android programs that you download from a store. They install on your device.

The problem with these "apps" is that they are device dependent and if you want them to run on all devices, you have two options:
  1. Create a device-specific app for each platform; or
  2. Use HTML5 that works across all platforms, even the Web browser.
For the Web based safety management software SMS Pro, we use the second option, as there are so many devices on the market: Blackberry, IPhone, all sorts of tablets, etc.

So no, there is no specific app. SMS Pro has worked on IPad since the IPad came out and most functionality works as if it were being run from a desktop browser. Whenever bugs regarding IPad functionality are reported to the SMS Pro support staff, we strive to fix them (as is our custom) because airports and airlines across the globe are using IPads.

As most of us know, whenever a new browser version comes out, there can be challenges, such as new IE, FireFox, Chrome, etc. This is another problem aviation safety software faces. The modern SMS Pro modules that work in offline mode use HTML5 code. Consequently, these offline modules will only work with modern browsers.

To test your browser for HTML5 compatibility, try

Here is a list of browsers partially supporting HTML5

Note I said "partially?" There are no browsers yet that completely support the HTML5 specification.

IPhone Ipad app for airline airport aviation safety management systems SMS
SMS Pro has several apps that work in offline mode, such as 
Weight and Balance;
LOSA Auditing Software; and
Flight Risk Assessment Tools (FRAT).

Our next offline app projects include offline hazard reporting forms (HTML5) and auditing forms.

You can learn more about the company that developed the LOSA management software.

Years ago, we had an offline hazard reporting desktop app, but it quickly became outdated with the advent of the ubiquitous Smart Phones. Anyone can submit hazards to SMS Pro by email using the offline mode whenever they are flying or don't have Internet connectivity. Emails go into the outbox. When Internet connectivity resumes, these emails in outbox are submitted automatically.

Shortcomings of Email Reporting for Aviation Safety Hazards

Email reporting is the most easy and efficient way to get employees to report airline and airport hazards. The limitation is that there may be required details that are not captured because users are not filling out a form. 

SMS Pro's offline hazard reporting forms will address this problem. Look for them during the summer of 2014.

More information about aviation SMS software can be found at:

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™.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What’s Lurking Beneath?

Uncovering the Real Root Causes

Often the real reason for a hazard to manifest itself if not readily apparent. Dig deeper!

Feel free to use this content as desired in your safety newsletters. TACG provides this aviation safety newsletter template as a service to the aviation safety community.

Aviation Safety Management Software helps manage reported hazards
A while back I was a passenger on an MD-88 which was being pushed back from the gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport. I had a window seat so I was able to see outside and observe the ramp operations. One of things I saw was pretty alarming—but not surprising. There was a clearly visible, large Styrofoam cup blowing around in the wind; not one of the ramp personnel picked it up.

            This type of situation is a very good example for the well-known “Iceberg” model. Simply put, accidents are at the top of the iceberg because they are above water (clearly visible) and reactively we can learn a lot from them. On the other hand, the incidents and occurrences that are below the water line (well below the top of the iceberg) are harder to see because they are deeply submerged, or hidden. A Styrofoam cup will probably not cause an aircraft to crash but any type of Foreign Object Debris (FOD) can certainly cause significant engine damage. Regardless, this situation is a good diagnostic indicator of WHAT is going on below the waterline, also known as proactive territory. So the question then is WHY this happened (or what failed)? Here are just a few plausible WHY’s and my responses to each:
     Training issue?
o       Doubtful. FOD training is robust at most airports, particularly at the largest airports in the world, such as Atlanta. The ramp personnel were trained to identify and pick up FOD with a very good understanding of FOD’s potential damaging effects.
        Lack of awareness?
o       Doubtful. The cup was white in color, large, swirling around by the wind, and plainly visible. Ramp personnel had to have seen the cup. 
·        Expedited ignorance?
o       Likely contributing factor. It’s natural to overlook seemingly “trivial” things for the sake of expediency to get the job done. 
·        Pluralistic ignorance?
o       Likely contributing factor. People tend to form a norm and do (or don’t do) what their peers are doing (or not doing). In this case, if one ramp personnel ignored the cup then his peers may have followed suit. This is why leading by example (or role modeling) is so important at any level of the organization.

What’s the point of all this? Well, the most seemingly trivial occurrences in isolation may not become a problem. But, when linked together (i.e., the Swiss cheese effect), these occurrences may creep above the waterline to become visible accidents. Thus, to prevent accidents, we need to start at the bottom. If ramp personnel are ignoring FOD then what other things may be lurking beneath the surface? Keep in mind that although this article cites a ramp issue, all of these principles can apply to any type of aviation operation.   

What can you do? If you are management, be sure training not only covers the technical aspects of the job but, additionally, include some human factors training (or at least stress the importance of human limitations). If you are a line employee, remember that YOU are the “eyes of the operation.” Be vigilant, be aware, don’t conform to negative norms, don’t think that the “little things don’t matter,” and perhaps most importantly— as the eyes of the operation—submit those anonymous hazard/incident reports to your safety department! It takes a concerted effort between management and line employees to keep those things lurking beneath the surface in check!    

Dr. Bob Baron is the President and Chief Consultant of The Aviation Consulting Group (TACG). His specializations include Human Factors (HF), Safety Management Systems (SMS), Crew Resource Management (CRM), Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA), and Fatigue Risk Management (FRM). He consults with, and provides training to, hundreds of aviation organizations on a worldwide basis. Projects range from short workshops all the way up to, and including, full safety program implementation at some of the largest airlines and aircraft manufacturers in the world. He also works with various civil aviation authorities and accident investigation bureaus to improve safety at the very highest levels of the aviation system. Please visit the TACG website for more information.

Dr. Bob Baron can also travel to your location to provide quality aviation safety management systems software training to best suit your airline or airport's need.