Sunday, July 26, 2015

SMS Long Before SMS Was Invented

Lukla Airport in Nepal is said to be the most dangerous airport in the world. The airport is located in the middle of the Himalayas at an elevation 9300 ft, with a 1700 ft runway. The airport is popular because Lukla is the place where most people start the climb to Mount Everest Base Camp. There are daily flights between Lukla and Kathmandu during daylight hours in good weather. Although the flying distance is short, rain commonly occurs in Lukla while the sun is shining brightly in Kathmandu. High winds, cloud cover, and changing visibility often mean many flights can be delayed or the airport closed.

Since SMS can be applied in the middle of the Himalayas, SMS can be unconditionally applied everywhere else. 
Aircraft can use runway 06 only for landings and runway 24 only for takeoffs. There is no prospect of a successful go-around on short final due to the terrain. There is high terrain immediately beyond the northern end of the runway and a steeply angled drop at the southern end of the runway into the valley below. Lukla Airport was constructed in 1964 and long before SMS in aviation was invented.

What makes Lukla Airport the most dangerous airport in the world are the many safety processes of a Safety Management System which has to be applied within a short time of operational management to ensure public safety. These SMS processes are necessary for safe approaches, landings, take-offs and departures.

SMS was implemented for flights into Lukla without questioning if all the processes were required by regulatory requirements.  SMS for Lukla was unconditionally implemented to ensure safety for the public.

SMS is an unconditional one way departure to safety.
When SMS is implemented only as a mandatory regulatory requirement it becomes a safety distraction and not safety processes to ensure operational safety. However, when SMS is unconditionally accepted as processes to manage safety it becomes an operational safety tool.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

There Are No Emergencies, Only Unpreparedness For Events

Emergencies are events with a major surprise, or an event which we don’t believe to have control over. Emergencies are categorized on a scale at the low end of minor emergencies to the high end of extreme emergencies. Everything else in-between are just emergencies. What once was classified as an emergency could be prepared for and no longer become an emergency, or an overwhelming uncontrollable event. Emergencies are manageable to the degree of preparedness and resources allocated.

It is impossible to prepare for all future events, but events which are prepared for will eliminate the surprise of unpreparedness. Even if one cannot prepare for all, one can prepare for selective events.

Emergencies, or non-scheduled events, are as unique as each shade of grey. 
A rule of thumb is the 80-20 rule that states that 80% of outcomes can be attributed to 20% of the causes for a given event. Generally, the 80-20 rule is used to help identify problems and determine which operating factors are most important and should receive the most attention based on an efficient use of resources. Resources should be allocated to addressing the input factors have the most effect on a company's final results. It was an event of the vital few which later demanded that everyone on a passenger ship must have access to lifeboats. 

The 80-20 rule is to manage and allocate resources to either the “vital few” or to the “trivial many”. The trivial many are easy and simple tasks, which contribute very little or none to the cause.  The vital few are difficult and complex tasks with substantial contribution to the cause, and could make the difference between continuous operations or losing it all.  

Preparedness is an opportunity to capture a non-scheduled event. 
Major emergency disasters are unmanageable when resources are allocated based on a low probability score.  However, if allocating resources, training and preparedness to the vital few severe emergencies, these non-scheduled events are no longer unmanageable emergencies, but become management of non-scheduled events.