Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Purpose Of SMS When Standards Change

The very first step of an effective Safety Management System (SMS) is for management to review and document intent, or documentation of regulatory compliance, the second part is to perform a Quality Assurance (QA) of operational processes to discover degree of processes regulatory compliance, with the following step to perform a QA to discover degree of safe operational processes. The regulatory requirements is the first item on agenda, since without being regulatory compliance, operational criteria do not exists. Before any operational process are established, the enterprise is in a static-state of regulatory compliance.  A hazardous operational condition begins to exists at the split-second of aircraft movement and an airport becomes operational.  Unless managed, this is a hazardous condition which could lead to an incident.

Hazardous conditions exists at the moment an aircraft is operational.
When standards are changed, either in flight operations or airport, it becomes essential to discover how this affect operations. An effective SMS includes a regulatory compliance segment, with the intent to not only capture the changes, but also to assess what effect these changes have on current and future operations. These future effects of changes becomes vital for management to understand. Often, airport master-plans extends beyond 20 year in the future of planned changes to runways, approaches and the capacity of operations. This capacity ranges from volume of passengers, to runway length and precision approach category.

The intent was not to have the town turn into a ghost-town.
Airports are critically dependant on obstacle free approach zones and these obstacles are managed different in different jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have zoning regulations which restricts the maximum height of obstacles close to the approaches. When a new airport standards are coming into force these zoning regulations, may or may not, protect for future precision approaches to current or future planned runways. Unless the impact is assessed and understood, a fully functional airport could become ghost-airport in the future.   

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Data Respond Only To Objective Assessments

In an SMS world, when an enterprise is assessed for effectiveness without applying Statistical Process Control (SPC), or in other words, when it is the subjective opinion of an assessor that is applied to evaluation of collected data, the assessment has only a subjective impact of the outcome of processes.

Applying assessments with the "gut feelings" tool and not SPC, is ineffective assessment. 
Assessment is the evaluation, or estimation of the nature, or ability of a Safety Management System to function within an organization.  There are two portions to an SMS System; the regulatory portion and the operational portion. Regulatory requirements are not estimations or abilities, but documentation put in place by an enterprise of systems which are showing their intent to conform to regulatory requirements. The operational portion is management of interconnected systems to operationally, in a changing environment, be capable of maintaining regulatory compliance by the intent proclaimed by the enterprise.

A Safety Policy as a regulatory requirement is described to conform to regulatory requirements and when implemented in the organization, the regulatory requirements are met. An assessment of this safety policy could conducted by anyone, and the result, or opinion of the ability of SMS, would change with the assessor's background and experience. Unless factual data and Statistic Process Control (SPC) is applied in assessment for effectiveness , the assessment is subjective and the outcome becomes irrelevant to safety.

A safety policy is not effective just because reports are received, investigated filed and completed. The policy is effective when an SPC analysis shows that the goals of the policy were met, that the objectives were met and the policy itself has an effect on human factors in the organization for a desire to achieve an undisputed safety record.

Data applied in SPC is discovering the variables of a flowing river.
Without applying SPC in assessments, data collected becomes subjective, while data itself respond only to objective assessments.  Subjective assessments do not affect data in the way that a change in processes makes a difference in desired outcome. The change of outcome will simply change because the process was changed by a subjective evaluation, and without regards for an objective desired outcome. When disregarding objective data available and applying a subjective, or "gut feeling" opinions to data,  the changes could have been made without the implementation of a Safety Management System.


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Saturday, October 3, 2015

When They Just Come And Talk To You

This month is 15 years ago sine the Singapore Airlines Flight 006 accident happen at Singapore Changi Airport. The airplane lined up and initiated takeoff on parallel runway under construction, and it was barricaded. It was raining, windy, dark and Typhoon was moving in, with gust up to 50 KTS, to the point of almost exceeding aircraft maximum crosswind component. The Captain became the face of the systems which to blame.


In a non SMS World the systems are concealed to show only the face. 
When they just come and talk to you is when there is no Safety Management System in place and airport, air-traffic controllers and pilots are operating in a virtual world of perfect operations. In this virtual world there is no accountability and hazards are not communicated, but ignored. They just come and talk to you where words and sentences of verbal instructions becomes singularized operational standards. Flight 006 was cleared for takeoff on RWY 05L, but ended up on RWY 05R. In the aftermath of this horrific accident the finding concluded with "I told you so".


Construction happens at airports all the times and is more frequent and congested during the summer months. Construction happen on Runways, Taxiways and Aprons with various impact on flight and ground operations, from severe accidents to inconvenience for operations. Construction on aprons may not allow for General Aviation aircraft at uncontrolled aprons to taxi to the normal location for fuelling or deplane passengers. In a non Accountable environment, and in a non Just-Culture environment,  a Blame-Culture exists which is blame someone when an aircraft is guided into a location where the aircraft was not suited to be parked. Blame is most often given by an authority position to a non-authority position.

Placing blame on the tree when leaves are falling is ignorance without accountability to the process.
In an SMS Environment with Accountability and Just-Culture blame is not assigned, but it is an environment where facts are investigated.  Accountability is to do whatever it takes to ensure safety and  a Just-Culture is freedom to express, verbally or written, any ideas or opinions to improve safety. In an SMS Environment they don't  just come and talk to you, they apply facts, they apply weight to the risk, they apply environmental factors, human factors and everything else factors to make changes to processes. In an SMS World, process changes are implemented without blame, but with Accountability. Organizational changes are then implemented at the level of disrespect for Accountability. 

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