Implementing risk management into flight departments
Risk Management is one of the foundations for safety identified by NBAA. In his continued discussion of the topic, Mario Pierobon considers the implementation of risk assessment data as a way of continually improving a flight department’s risk management practice.
After safety risk assessments have been performed and their results made available, management should have reached a certain degree of awareness as to where its operational safety issues lie. Awareness, however, is not enough.
The flight department needs to act upon the results of its findings. Actually doing something in relation to the identified operational safety issues is the most difficult and necessary function.
Implementing Risk Management
The implementation part will require significant effort from the Flight Department. Essentially, decisions must be made and actions taken as to whether some operations should be discontinued altogether, or whether they should be performed in a different way, following a safer standard.
Regardless of what the decisions taken are, it is of utmost importance that management ensures the buy-in of those team members and passengers who will be affected by any required changes.
It should be noted that oftentimes changes to operational practices are made because issues are raised from the line environment.
Nevertheless, it is important that people impacted by change understand why those changes are taking place, and what the new requirements are.
It is also important that management itself fully believes in and understands why the changes are occurring. Management should lead by example, avoiding advocating change and then reverting back to old habits and actions.
Adequate Funding and Risk Management
The Flight Department Manager should also ensure that adequate funds are given to sustain change-management initiatives; change should not be delegated to line operatives who eventually have to increase their workload.
Change may require technological upgrades that can be costly. Though a Flight Department should not be overly indulgent with expenditures, nor should it be too frugal.
Approving suitable expenses after their due consideration can reinforce to Flight Department staff that management believes in change and safety – which in turn can have a positive effect on the work performance of the operatives.
Continuous Improvement in Risk Management
After the Flight Department has implemented any needed changes it should aim for continuous improvement, which is the last important task to accomplish as part of risk management. Needless to say, it is also an ongoing task.
Continuous improvement has to do with the fact the Flight Department should never be fully satisfied with how it is performing from a safety perspective - it can always do better. Key to continuous improvement is the ongoing collection of feedback, which can be accomplished in various ways.
One method is to enable the line environment to report on whether the solutions are working effectively or not.
Alternatively, feedback can be collected through auditing the business – consider having a program in place whereby internal and/or external parties monitor whether the solutions engineered as part of risk assessment are accomplishing their goal of improving safety performance.
Continuous improvement is ultimately realised when the flight department has a genuine desire to become ever more professional. The practice is also sustained by looking beyond one’s own hangar and learning what the best-regarded Flight Departments are doing.
Sharing experiences with other Business Aviation operators who might have similar issues and engaging in discussions by attending industry forums can also be enlightening.
A variety of industry standards for running Flight Departments are very sophisticated and tend to require more than adherence to the bare minimum of applicable regulations.
Such standards can be implemented in full (eventually leading to a certification or registration), but they can also be a source of inspiration to address a particular issue identified as part of risk assessment, or even one that had not been previously considered.