Sunday, November 30, 2014

Identifying Hazards To Aviation Safety

The lowest level of safety in a safety regulated airline industry is to maintain regulatory requirements, which is a safety management system including a quality assurance program. In a safety environment the regulations establishes safety objectives for operational management and control.

A safety management system includes a process for identifying hazards to aviation safety and for evaluating and managing the associated risks. There are several methods to identify hazards.

One often applied method is the "shotgun" approach with an objective to report any hazard discovered. This approach may be combined with an encouragement whoever submits the most gets a prize. With this very broad and undefined definition to report a hazard  own experience becomes a determining factor if a situation or item is a hazard to justify a report. Some scenarios are therefore not identified as a hazard while others justify everything unusual as a hazard.

A hazard are to some to be parked next to a runway, while others see it as a mitigated event.
Another approach is for the organization to established a criteria for hazards to be found, and expect that each person identifies this criteria when reporting a hazard. With this approach the organization has established what to be on lookout for and instill alertness for these items. Some hazardous situations may therefore not be identified, since the task was to find hazards that fit an established criteria.

A third option in hazard identification is to establish a time-frame when to identify hazards. This could be between 8-9 AM, or 3-4 PM or any other times during the day. With this approach the task assigned is time oriented, and hazards outside of these set hours may not be identified and reported.

The regulatory requirement is to establish and includes a process for identifying hazards to aviation safety, one scenario of hazard identification is as good as the other. All hazard scenarios give the organization an opportunity to identify hazards, and managing associated risks. Since a hazard is a latent incident, and unknown until discovered, there is no right or wrong method to discover hazards, only right or wrong methods to apply corrective actions. 

The success to hazard management is to find the door where the key belong.
Hazard identification is not only valuable to mitigate the hazard itself, but also to assess organizational effectiveness. The "shotgun" approach could be applied in evaluation of organizational hazard identification training, if discovered that hazards reported were extremely high or extremely low. An established criteria approach to hazards could be applied to find out how well the organization conform to required processes. While the hazard-time approach could be applied to identify any change in level of task awareness during working hours. Applications of hazard reporting becomes indefinite when thinking outside the box identifying hazards to aviation. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Goals Of SMS Management Review

An objective of a Safety Management System (SMS) is to include a Management Review, where the system is evaluated for effectiveness and if the systems are adequate to organizational needs and will continue to meet organizational needs over time.

Goals established for a Management Review are activities to be completed for a successful outcome of objectives. Effective goal activities are processes with defined roles of who does it, how it is done and when it's done.

Goal is a vehicle travelling to destination named Objective.
 Supporting goals for the Management Review are periodic, planned reviews and review for cause. A review for cause goal is the activity to take place when there are major changes in the organization that affects SMS or operations. These major activities could be due to senior management changes or activities requiring new non-established processes to operate.
Other goals for a Management Review objective are to review audits, verify that employees understand roles and responsibilities, verify achievement results of other objectives, review of results from investigation and analysis, effectiveness of internal and external feedback, determine the status of corrective actions completed and other with progress reports, follow-up from previous Management Review reports, goals of changes that could affect SMS, review recommendations for improvements and sharing of best practices across organization. All these goals are tools established for management to understand if their SMS is functioning as intended.

Objective is a destination for the Goal to stay on track.
In addition to operational goals, there are administrative goals. These goals are procedures and responsibilities for conducting audits of policies and procedures, and audits of SMS maintenance requirements.

A final goal is for Management Review to evaluate the effectiveness of corrective actions resulting from previous Management Reviews. This all boils down to the simple concept to Plan, Do, Check and Act. SMS is simple in concept, but comprehensive in assigning weight to each process 


Friday, November 7, 2014

Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS)

The Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS) reports daily airport or airline occurrences. Any operators could assume these reports of their operation to be annoying facts  and nothing else but to tell the world of what problems they have to fix. There some truth to this since these reports are publicly available and for anyone to view. However, there is also another side to these reports that are extremely valuable to any operator. This information is the discovery of potential unknown operational processes or lack of tools. It is a misconception that people will do what they were told in all situations. It is not that anyone intend to go outside the process, but because minor changes to processes are widely accepted the process deviates over time.

Over time these multiple small changes becomes the norm of what is organizational acceptable. With undocumented changes to a process, the next tolerance change does not take into account deviation from original process, but rather change from current process. Information reported in CADORS could give some clues to what out-of-tolerances an organization accepts.  

Regulatory violations could go unnoticeable until it reaching an unacceptable level.
In the above chart there is an incline in regulatory violations. It could be that this trend is not monitored and unnoticeable.  At some point the trend gets managers attention and mitigation is implemented.  It could be that a process, or how things are done, over time deviated widely from the standard operating procedures. Minor changes were operationally accepted, which sometimes is called "slacking off", when it actually is organizational acceptable process deviations.
In  an SMS world information from CADORS gives invaluable information of operational status. An airport bird occurrence graph could over a few years look like the graph below, with more occurrences in August than any other months. An assumption is that this happens due to more birds in the area during the migratory bird seasons.

An airport may apply different bird strategies applicable to seasonal processes.
An occurrence could be seasonal or organizational.
It takes some initiative and time on the part of both airport-operator and air-operator to investigate and analyze information of reports and then apply to their operations information given in the CADORS. That there are more bird-strikes in August / September does not necessarily imply process deviation in how things are done, but it rather could imply that there are no effective tools available for in-flight bird detections, or tools to move migratory birds from the approach paths.

Analyzing occurrences reports could detect process deviations or ineffective operational tools.