Monday, April 4, 2016

Selective Confidence Levels

An effective Safety Management System (SMS) is for personnel to know and understand how safe airlines and airport operations are. Knowledge and understanding is a product of in depth analysis of data, establishing and applying confidence levels to selective processes and to place each component of a system in relevance to desired outcome. Not all processes are equally safety critical for safe operations of airport or aircraft. However, all processes are regulatory critical to regulatory requirements for compliance. Any regulatory requirements are to conform, without deviations, to a 100% confidence level of regulatory requirements. Regulatory requirements do not differentiate on a scale of safe or unsafe, but differentiate only on a scale of compliance or non-compliance. The two impact levels of SMS are regulatory and operational. 

Regulatory compliance of a system is an authorization for operational processes.
In a regulatory system selective confidence levels are not acceptable, since complete regulatory requirements are fundamental to a valid operations certificate. When the regulations require a Safety Policy to be in place, or to have an Emergency Plan in place, these requirements have to be met for the issuance, or continuing compliance of an operations certificate. There are no sliding scales for regulatory requirements to be excluded based on bias, or personal opinions. In preparation for an audit, an enterprise has no options but to enter into an audit with a 100% confidence level of regulatory compliance. A regulatory impact level does not consider customer service, business competition or cost of compliance to regulatory critical requirements. This level only considers regulatory compliance. 

On the other hand, there are magnitudes of opportunities in the operational impact level of an SMS system to establish selective confidence levels for operational processes. An operational impact level considers customer satisfaction, as viewed by the customers, when applying selective confidence levels to safety critical processes. These processes are without beginning or end, but follows the travelling public through their path of life experiences. Simplified, this can be said that an airplane crash also affects the general public who did not book on that particular flight, or who were on anther flight, or at the time was without any travel plans. One single airplane crash, or hijacking affects the life, or lifestyle of everyone. 

A regulatory compliant design is affected by operational processes.
Without SMS in aviation, the confidence level of regulatory compliance and operational processes for safe operation of airport or aircraft are unknown. In a non-SMS organization, the confidence level is 100% certain to be completely unknown for performance of processes applied and if these processes are skewing towards safe or unsafe operations.  

Selective confidence level is to apply Safety Management System processes selectively to the impact of cost of safety for each process. Some processes require a 100% confidence level not to compromise aviation safety, while other processes, with lower safety impact, may be acceptable with a 95% confidence level for safe operations.