After several years of SMS, the time is now for airlines and airports to embrace SMS and for SMS to be managed by experts in the field. There are many who will take on the title as SMS Manager, or Director of Safety, but there are few who are qualified. With a high demand for qualified personnel, it is busy task find someone with world class experience. SMS has become an extremely specialized field and there are only a handful of experts who comprehend SMS strategies and solutions of both the operational side and the regulatory side, in addition having the skills to implement a practical solution of regulatory processes. There was no one who had expected the SMS 10 – 15 years ago to take this path. Back then, SMS was sold as a data entry tool only where technical expertise knowledge no longer would be required. However, SMS is on a different level than any other QA Programs in that it must assess human factors, human performance and job performance as it relates to safety critical areas and safety critical functions.
The quality and performance of a tangible product can easily be assessed, while the intangible forces applied to SMS requires other assessment tools. Some of these tools are comprehensive risk level assessment tool, a PDCA tool, a SHELL model assessment tool and SPC tools. In addition, a tailored SMS expectations references handbook is needed for the SMS processes to effectively comply with regulatory requirements and practical applications. As more and more airports and airlines are finding themselves wrapped up in regulatory findings, in addition to failing their own audits, this is the time to ensure a regulatory compliant SMS. Over a few years there are examples of the regulator placing operators under enhanced monitoring, taking certificate actions and issuing SMS findings that affects the bottom line. Have you ever stopped for a minute and reflected over why the Global Aviation Industry, being Airlines or Airports, needs a Safety Management System (SMS) today, when they were safe yesterday without an SMS? Can you imagine if you knew 10 years ago, what you know now? What mistakes would you have avoided? What opportunities would you have capitalized on? An enterprise needs an SMS to take the pressure off their Accountable Executive busy schedule. In the old days of safety, all safety tasks were placed on one person to remember, to action and the implementation of CAPs. Most of these tasks became fire-fighter tasks to put the fires out whenever there was an incident or hazard reported. Very few enjoyed this responsibility and it also interrupted the businesses to an extensive degree. However, for decades this was the one and only acceptable approach and there were no changes in how safety was managed, except for changes in how to put the fires out. The NextGen of aviation safety, SMS is the change that took place some years ago.
While they were not called Accountable Executives in the old days, they were the Directors, CEOs, CAOs, Presidents, Managers, or Business Owners who had accepted the responsivity to ensure the safe operations of their enterprise. After an incident or major accident, their busy schedules were interrupted by visits from the regulator for compliance inspections. As they had to explain these embarrassing incidents to both the regulator and the public, which in hindsight became even more of an embarrassment to the company, they wasted valuable time away from leading the enterprise forward in a positive light and safety in operations. While all this was happening, there were financial loses draining the cashflow and company equity. The enterprise had now become unstable and management had grave concerns about their future.
Today, any enterprise required to implement SMS 10-12 years ago are still follow their old path and putting out fires more than changing the root causes. Some operators did not make the right decision at the fork in the road by embracing the Safety Management System. They continued safety in operations without applying their own SMS principles. If they had known back then what they know today, they would have avoided mistakes and created opportunities they could have capitalized on. They would have celebrated their wins, recognized people who have created results, generated a network of specialists and learned new strategies from one of the best in the world while operating an amazing enterprise.
The purpose of SMS, and why is it needed today, is to take the pressure off your busy schedule. SMS is in concept very simple, but more complex and specialized in operations than an enterprise’s computer network, flight crew scheduling, airport operations or their regulatory compliant accounting system. SMS has since the beginning been assigned to unqualified people, since there were very few qualified. Junior employees proudly took on the title as SMS Manager, but very few comprehended what it entailed. Today there are experts available to take on any SMS system and proudly move it forward in a way that literary takes the pressure off your busy schedule. A CEO, President or Director of any organization does not daily worry about their computer system or accounting system during normal operations. They receive reports, review facts and move forward in their busy schedule. SMS is no different than other support systems in an organization, except that it was often assigned to unqualified personnel who did not comprehend how to move it forward.
By embracing SMS and assigning SMS to experts it becomes a businesslike approach to safety. When SMS is a businesslike approach, the Accountable Executive does not require a fire extinguisher for daily operations, since world class experts and specialists take care of SMS. This is not a fantasy world, but facts and the real world where world class experts keep an enterprise regulatory complaint and maintains safety in operations processes. Now, the pressure is off your busy schedule.