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.

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