Keys to Improve Aviation Safety Management - Pt 2

Defining currency & recency targets of the safety manager

Mario Pierobon  |  20th January 2017
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Mario Pierobon
Mario Pierobon

Mario Pierobon holds a Master’s Degree in Air Transportation Management from City University London,...

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Flight Department Safety Manager

Last month we considered how many safety managers in Flight Departments have unrealized potential. Following on, Mario Pierobon presents how organizations can establish the currency of their safety manager’s processes…

In accordance with ICAO’s Safety Management Manual Document 9859, a safety manager is responsible for being the focal point in safety data collection and analysis within a Flight Department. This duty may be accomplished through Reactive, Proactive and Predictive Methods, as outlined here…

Reactive Methods: Include the consultation of Mandatory Occurrence Reports (MORs), Incident Reports and Accident Reports to gather useful safety intelligence for the organization. Reactive Methods are normally available in the public domain and are easily accessible.

What can be difficult, however, is to establish an ideal number of accident reports to be reviewed, interpreted and distributed among the organization each year by the safety manager.

Each flight department should determine a target, based on their own specific requirements.

Reactive Methods should make up the majority of the safety manager’s efforts to remain current at the early stages of Safety Management System (SMS) implementation within their Flight Department, and/or at the early stages of being a safety manager.

Proactive Methods: Include administering safety-related surveys, accomplishing safety audits and managing voluntary reporting systems, in order to increase the organization’s foresight relating to safety.

Once again, hard numbers are difficult to determine when aviation organizations must manage safety according to their specific requirements. However, organizations that have moved beyond early implementation might want to set more demands on the safety manager’s currency in their role by deriving useful statistics from consolidated voluntary reports, for example.

Predictive Methods: Include Flight Data Analysis (FDA) or direct observations, such as Line Operations Safety Audits (LOSA), thus making the flight department better aware of potential safety hazards in a more quantitative data-driven fashion.

The very best safety managers are using Predictive Methods in fulfilling their safety responsibilities.

While not all business aircraft are required by law to perform FDAs, relatively inexpensive solutions like Quick Access Recorders (QARs) are available, enabling operators of smaller business aircraft to identify operational exceedance trends.

Organizations that are at an advanced level of SMS implementation might want to include the accomplishment of more sophisticated quantitative data analysis exercises among the currency requirements of the safety manager, and enable training in that area, as appropriate.

Additional Safety Manager Criteria

Further currency criteria for the safety manager may include setting targets in monitoring and evaluating the results of corrective actions, ensuring that risk assessments are conducted, being involved with actual or practice emergency responses and developing/updating of the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) and procedures.

Safety communication is a significant currency requirement of any safety management method, thereby ensuring that safety-related information (including organizational goals and objectives) is made available to all personnel through established communication processes, according to ICAO’s Safety Management Manual.

It is simply not enough for safety managers to perform safety data collection and analysis if they don’t improve the knowledge of the organization.

Communication is the key to learning. Thus, currency requirements might be determined by how many internal seminars the safety manager should run every year, how many safety briefs they should broadcast and how clearly the content of safety information is distributed.

The mere establishment of currency and recency criteria for the safety manager does not directly improve safety performance. It requires the whole Flight Department to support the role of the safety manager.

Next month, we’ll conclude this series on how to improve aviation safety management with a look at how to put codified currency and recency criteria to use within the Flight Department, ensuring the SMS develops a critical mass. Stay tuned!


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