Management Perspective on Aviaton Safety
Aviation Safety Management
However, this topic narrows substantially when one considers it from a management perspective. Management has a number of diverse concerns that it must consider in regards to aviation safety. For the most part, these safety issues are typically balanced out with issues related to cost and customer satisfaction. Although safety should always be the principle point of concern, management oftentimes has to temper this with practical considerations related to finances regarding time and money spent. Management can help to mitigate the severity of financial constraints, however, by involving as many people as possible in the safety and quality assurance process via a team-based approach. Additionally, there are certain Safety Management System (SMS) programs that can help to stratify different facets of safety management. Finally, it is important for management to make aviation safety a continuous process which is increasingly refined and improved.
One of the most crucial aspects of aviation safety from a management level perspective is to actively involve everyone in ensuring that safety is the top priority. From a bottom up approach — beginning with the aircraft mechanics and technicians (Grosenick, 2002) — such involvement is typically taken for granted. Yet a truly beneficial approach to aviation safety involves everyone within an aircraft organization, including those who do not normally consider themselves involved with safety issues. According to Waikeer and Nichols
“Safety is no accident.” It is not coincidence that this slogan appears in FAA literature, correspondence and advisory circulars. It is a frequent reminder to all of us that reliability and safety in aviation is a team effort and that all individuals are responsible for doing their part towards the maintenance of a safe flying environment (Waiker and Nichols, 1997, p. 87).
One of the principle ways that management can contribute to promoting an atmosphere in which there is a team effort to raise awareness for safety issues is by fostering a culture in which individuals make a habit of reporting safety concerns. Ideally, there should not be any negatives involved with reporting concerns; it is generally more advisable to suspect a concern that is unfounded rather than not to say anything and have a safety issue. From a management perspective then, personnel can take two routes to facilitating such a culture: the “Just Culture” route and the events reporting route (Conyers, 2013). The former of these involves encouraging and allowing everyone in involved with the aviation process to freely state their opinions and observations about safety issues. The latter actually implements a policy in which each employee — regardless of how distant his or her job appears to be from safety concerns, is actually required to make a monthly report regarding safety. According to Conyers, all observations are potentially valuable ones.
Although the assumption may be that some people, e.g., schedulers, don’t have as much opportunity to witness unsafe acts or conditions, the reports aren’t limited to aviation events. Observations made on the highway, in the playground, or in the supermarket are just as valid as aviation oriented events (Conyers, 2013).
Either approach, encouraging unsolicited feedback from employees or that in the form of a formal report is essential for heightening safety awareness and making it the top concern for an aviation facility.
It is also essential to strategize quality assurance procedures around contemporary SMS tools. The vast majority of these tools consists of at least four components, the most eminent of which include safety reporting, risk assessment, policy waivers and internal audits. Although safety reporting has been discussed at length within this document, its inclusion as part of the SMS repertoire of tools emphasizes its importance. As equally as important as issuing safety reports is risk assessment, which should certainly be conducted daily and take place well in advance of any particular flights. As indicated by Burnside, “It’s impossible to deny the importance of risk management in maintaining safe flight operations. Accident shows the root cause of some 75% of general aviation’s fatal accidents is the pilot’s poor or non-existent risk-management skills” (2013). Proper aviation safety management, however, can considerably mitigate this negligence on the part of pilots or maintenance crew. Additionally, management should consider policy waivers to be the results of efficacious risk assessment and safety reporting, since these two components of SMS should ideally both reflect and affect current policy. Lastly, internal audits are invaluable in providing a report card of sorts for the overall effectiveness of management’s aviation safety procedures.
There certainly are other aspects of aviation safety that managers should consider. However, it would probably do them little good to do so without implementing at least some of the measures discussed in this document. It is certainly essential to take a team-based approach to implementing safety measures by actively encouraging feedback and reporting form all involved. It is equally as important to implement SMS programs and to readily evaluate risks and policies, as well as to conduct internal audits.
Burnside, J.E. (2013). “Top five pre-flight mistakes.” Aviation Safety Management. Retrieved from http://www.aviationsafetymagazine.com/issues/33_5/features/Pre-Flight-Check-Mistakes_10554-1.html
Conyers, B. (2013). “Safety management systems: beyond theory.” SM4 Safety. Retrieved from http://sm4.global-aero.com/articles/safety-management-systems-beyond-the-theory/?disp=pdf
Grosenick, C. (2002). “Quality assurance: how does it impact maintenance?” Aviation Pros. Retrieved from http://www.aviationpros.com/article/10387519/quality-assurance-how-does-it-impact-maintenance?page=3
Waikar, A., Nichols, P. (1997) “Aviation safety: a quality perspective.” Disaster Prevention and Management. 6 (2): 87 — 93.
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