Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Testing Of Safety Management System (SMS)

Introduction of new equipment or processes is done with the expectancy that changes are improvements to increased productivity with a higher rate of return on cash invested. When new airplanes are introduced it is assumed that this will attract more customers and improve service in a competitive world. Airlines with an operational philosophy of high quality customer service have greater chances to attract more repetitious flyers and paint a positive image of the company.

A positive image sets the stage for success.
SMS is a risk-based approach to safety where risks are identified, assessed and placed into existing, or new operational programs. SMS is the management of variables in a Timing Management System (TMS). Timing of variables is a fundamental factor of risk management. It is irrelevant to safety-specific if an airplane is parked on the hanger line due to mechanical failures, but becomes relevant for the purpose of flight. If a crew is waiting for that same airplane to be airworthy, the issue of mechanical failure becomes a variable highly important to safety.

A change-management system must be in place for tabletop exercises and testing how changes affects SMS operational systems. When introducing changes as new equipment or processes, scenarios are configured and played out to establish the risk-factor for risk-factor management. These change-management analysis becomes virtual events of the future, as they are not assessed based on future data collection, but based on past data collection of similar scenarios.

A selective picture of a risk assessment leaves the rest of the story up for assumptions. 
When operational changes or new processes are introduces without a change-management system in n place the testing of SMS is not fully completed. Operational changes involves human factors which are not regular variables, but special, and often unpredictable variations. These human factors cannot be applied to react in the same manner to changes as mechanical factors do. 

Eliminating human factors from the equation when testing SMS, skews a risk assessment in favor of assumptions.