Safety Management Systems (SMS) are an integral part of safe and progressive aviation operations. SMS provides a structured approach to oversee and manage safety risks. Every operation, flight school or business is different with the SMS system taking into account the unique structure of an operation.
Safety Management Systems
In the early years of commercial aviation operators were not regulated as closely compared to the present. A lack of knowledge, technology, infrastructure and oversight naturally brought many unneeded hazards to operators. Over time this was recognized and studied, providing the need for a proper system that can be implemented to avoid hazards, provide means of communicating safety issues and approach risk management systematically.
Flight schools are not required to use SMS under FAA regulations. However, it is a great environment that can benefit from a good SMS implementation. It is also a great time for pilots to become familiar with it. They are required in Part 121 Airlines and 135 Charter operations. Quick reporting of safety concerns saves lives, and every pilot should contribute to their organizations SMS.
SMS has four pillars that help to manage aviation safety.
- Safety Policy establishes management’s commitment to continually improve safety and defines methods and processes needed to meet safety goals.
- Safety Risk Management is the continuous identification of hazards that results in risk assessment processes to determine solutions.
- Safety Assurance evaluates the effectiveness of the risk control strategies that were implemented.
- Safety Promotion includes the training, communication and other actions needed to create a safety culture throughout the whole operation.
Also, SMS can be beneficial to any aviation operation. Here are just a small few of the benefits that it provides.
- A better safety culture
- Improved safety in operations
- Overall less accidents and incidents
- More safety to use
- Results in better safety decisions
- Allows better compliance with regulators
- Improves reputation within industry and public
SMS is used more notably in airline operations due to the higher complexity, expensive equipment, many employees and large amount of oversight given by regulators. SMS has proven to be effective by observing that airlines are currently the safest they have ever been in history. Training and new technology are factors for this but improved SMS has helped to achieve this. Overall, it is wise to have SMS as a part of flight training.
In flight training operations, being aware of safety issues, documenting them and bringing those issues to the appropriate person helps to manage safety, prevent incidents and create a safer environment for training. Each student pilot should promote a safe environment as well and do all that he or she can to communicate safety critical info should it arise.
Through use of SMS, extensively knowing your POH and by always furthering education, a responsible training environment and mindset can be cultivated. Additionally, in today’s day and age we are able to have many advanced and efficient safety features in airplanes. Technologies such as ADS-B, Foreflight, XM weather and digital avionics have given pilots greater situational awareness and has made it easier to make more informed and safer decisions. What else do you think would help to create an even more responsible training environment? Leave a comment below!