Safety Management Systems (SMS)

Allen Aviation and Safety Consultants, LLC have a deep knowledge and understanding of developing and implementing safety management systems (SMS), especially aviation-based safety management systems. As experienced aviation safety consultants, we provide a scalable SMS to fit the size and sophistication of the aviation business, be it a large part 121 airline to a single person drone operation. To enable a low-cost safety management system that is agile for change, we can provide an SMS database system, developed on a Microsoft Access platform.

Having a simple safety program that is only reactive is not good enough for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations or the public. The expectation is for aviation operators to increase the complexity and sophistication of their safety programs commensurate with the increasing complexity and sophistication of their operation. This means the safety program must implement new technology to acquire data, not only telling “what” happened but “why” it happened. This supports the maturation of the safety program from not only being reactive but also moving toward being proactive and predictive.

To acquire data telling the “why”, an operator must establish a data reporting system that protects the individual reporting from disciplinary actions by the company. You want employees feeling free to report their mistakes or near-miss mistakes.  There are a few situations where the reporting isn’t protected such as drug/alcohol abuse, reckless behavior, or lapse in integrity. But over 90% of errors are caused by unintentional mistakes, most times influenced or caused by the company. We call these systemic influencers and if not corrected, will result in continual errors. Systemic influencers are usually attributed to failings in procedure/process development, documentation of procedures/processes, training programs, resources, and/or supervisors/managers.  Imagine letting go of an employee who reported a mistake and then wondering why the mistake occurred.  Well, you just let go of the best source of information to tell you why the mistake occurred, what was in their head.  In addition, this is a perfect opportunity to motivate the employee to be a safety advocate instead of disciplining them and making them a safety adversary.

By creating a protected reporting system, you enable a healthy and vibrant safety culture that moves your aviation SMS program from only being reactive, to also being proactive and predictive.

There are thousands of errors taking place on a daily basis with a vibrant aviation operator.  SMS provides a disciplined and structured way of addressing the mistakes by using risk management.  This is a triage system where the mistake data is analyzed and transformed so that decision makers can best see what issues are of higher risk. This risk prioritization allows decision makers to best allocate resources for mitigation of those things of highest risk. SMS incorporates the requirement to document the decisions made to address safety risk and thereby satisfying the FAA’s need to see how the operator is improving its safety and is a regulatory requirement of SMS.

A SMS is scalable, meaning the SMS processes and procedures use should be more complex and sophisticated the larger the operator is, and thus more complex and sophisticated. This also holds true for the sophistication and complexity of the SMS database needed to support the SMS. To illustrate this point, an Excel spreadsheet or Microsoft Access database may suffice the SMS database requirement for a one-aircraft/drone operator. However, an operator with multiple aircraft will probably need a more sophisticated database management system to satisfy the safety data and reporting requirements of its SMS.

SMS will enhance your efficiency and safety, by improving your situational awareness of your operation through enhanced reporting and use of a SMS database management system and improve your decision making with risk-management practices. The time has come for you to reach the highest level of safety of operation. The way to do that is to develop and employ a SMS. We can help you do just that.