Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Regulatory Compliance Without SMS Is A Selective Picture Of Safety

Technical regulations are static requirements of operations while process regulations are operational safety management. During the Pre-SMS days, when technical regulatory requirements were applied as operational processes, the assumption was that more technical regulations automatically produced a safer operational environment.


Regulatory compliance without SMS is like a bias selection of a still picture.
A car has a breaking system, a steering system, an acceleration system, a power system, a torque system, a display system and several other systems. When it comes off the assembly plant it is regulatory compliant and have met all standards required. A speedometer indicating mph or km/hr, headlights showing white, with correct intensity and alignment, a steering wheel of approved shape and size and operating pedals placed in order as required.
A vehicle operator has a license to operate, has passed both a knowledge test and practical test to drive. The road system, consisting of highways for cross country travel, access roads to local places and streets for city addresses. All aspects conform to regulatory requirements.

An airplane comes off the assembly line in the same manner as a car. The system has put in place runways and airways for travel between points of destinations. An airplane is regulatory compliant with wings, flaps, power units, control-input units, and  pilots who have a pilot license to operate and qualified of aircraft type.

When SMS is Regulatory compliant, that is when operational facts are discovered. 

After major accidents, more technical regulations and standards are put in place to make flying safer. Unless operations have processes in place to manage safety, or risks  (as there are inherent risks in flying), aviation is only safe as long as an airplane conforms to static regulatory compliance on the ground. At the moment it moves, another world of managing safety opens up. Safety does not miraculously comply to safety regulations and standards unless it is managed.

It was not until a Safety Management System came into play in aviation that operations had a tool to manage and make safety happen.

A Safety Management System (SMS) is safety in operation, safety in human factors, environmental factors, organizational factors, supervision factor and it is to make regulatory compliant operating processes. When these processes are in place, the risk in flying is reduced to a level of certainty of processes effectiveness.

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