Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SMS System Failure – The Old Barn That Didn’t Make It.

One must know what triggers a failure to restore a system.
When an aviation operator identifies an SMS systematic failure, the opportunity becomes wide open to mitigate for zero tolerance to compromise aviation safety. SMS is a concept, and without the triggers of human, organizational or environmental factors the system of SMS cannot produce failures. However, policies and processes set by the operator, or lack of processes, may cause activation of unwanted results, or systematic failures. The challenge for the operator becomes to establish the correct processes for guidance when coming to the fork in the road. If a process is based on facts for the road making a left, the same process may not be effective if the road instead takes a right at the fork.

The recognition of SMS systematically failures may not be sudden and obvious, but rather increments of insignificant changes. Who in the organization has the authority to decide what is not important enough to report?
Know what triggered the failure. 
The barn was at some time serving as a place conforming to expectations of use. Over time it began to insignificantly deteriorate until it became a system failure and could not conform to expectations or regulatory requirements. The cause of deterioration could have been due to regular usage, organizational practices or environmental circumstances. Whatever it was, these insignificant changes were not identified by the organization with the result that the barn became a complete failure.

If an aviation operator does not have established processes in place to capture insignificant deteriorating changes to the organization, there is a high probability that these systematic changes will cause a failure of the Safety Management System.  Since SMS is a concept and therefore can not fail on its own, the triggers of failures are activation by human, organizational or environmental factors.

Should an SMS systematically fail, it may become an impossible task to restore the system within a reasonable time frame. An SMS failure could affect the Aviation Certificate and lead to loss of profit or total loss of financial support.

Depending on what turn the operator takes at the next fork in the road, an aviation operator with may jeopardize the certificate if insignificant hazards and incidents are not assessed and mitigated with established processes. 

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