Thursday, April 20, 2017

The SMS Manager

The person managing the operation of the SMS fulfils the required job functions and responsibilities to meet regulatory requirements. An effective Safety Management System is lead by a person who is technically qualified and understand the interaction of all systems. An airline and airport are to ensure that the person who occupy the position as SMS Manger is qualified to lead and manage for regulatory compliance. The regulations for an SMS manager is written with ambiguity, or written for being open to more than one interpretation. This is how a performance based regulation is written to allow for the application of size and complexity to conform to regulatory compliance in operation. Since there is no establish standards the enterprise must first establish their standards, or expectations and then the qualifications requirement for that position before the effective date of their SMS.
Ambiguity is in the design.
If the qualifications for an SMS manager is not established, or an unqualified person is placed in the position as SMS manager, there is no certainty within the enterprise that their SMS is a businesslike approach to safety with the SMS as an additional layer of safety.

One of the items an SMS manager is expected to lead and manage is to establish and maintain a reporting system to ensure the timely collection of information related to hazards, incidents and accidents that may adversely affect safety. An SMS manager with technical knowledge and intelligence of the specifics of operations may know and understand the effect of unsafe conditions also needs to be qualified to develop a reporting system to ensure timely collection of information. It is the task of the enterprise to ensure that the person in the SMS manager position has these skills required to develop and maintain a system. Without these skills applied to an SMS manager, an enterprise may slowly drift away from the regulatory performance requirements.

Another skill required is to identify hazards and carry out risk management analyses of those hazards. A safety risk management of hazards is to apply likelihood and severity of a hazard as it applies to the operations of an airport or airline. If there is no exposure to the hazard there is no risk involved. In my many years of analyzing Safety Management Systems I have heard the opinion from regulators that a pilot is exposed to an engine failure for each takeoff and the reasoning for this is that an engine failure could happen, and that the pre-take off briefing includes the actions in the event of an engine failure. This is true, that an engine failure is a hazard, but it is not true that a pilot is exposed to an engine failure at each takeoff. The exposure determines the risk and if not exposed to the hazard there is no risk. The preparation for an engine failure is a corrective action plan to action the risk if exposed.

As the root cause analysist, the SMS manager is defining time and location of the fork in the road.
Other skills required by an SMS manager are skills to investigate, analyze and identify the root cause or probable cause of all hazards, incidents and accidents, to monitor and analyze trends in hazards, incidents and accidents, to monitor and evaluate the results of corrective actions with respect to hazards, incidents and accidents, to monitor the concerns of the civil aviation industry in respect of safety and their perceived effect on the holder of an airline or airport certificate; and determine the adequacy of the training required to comply with regulatory requirements.
When the person managing the operation of the SMS fulfils the required job functions and responsibilities established by the policies, standards and job performance expectations the enterprise has established a foundation for an effective SMS with tailored job functions to one specific enterprise and not intended for duplication.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Value of Safety

The last blog touched the value of safety and ROI on safety. There are several safety articles written about the return on investment of a Safety Management System with a return between 100 % and 600 %. All these ROIs are based on future predictions of a reduction in major accidents, operational incidents and hazards by applying the SMS tool. When applying an estimate of lack of future losses, the ROI does not represent the true value of safety, but a virtual value of safety. Virtual cash or virtual ROI is not an actual return based on facts or data, but an opinion and projection of a planned SMS. The value of safety is not the lack of accidents or incidents, but the total revenue generated by operations. SMS is a businesslike approach to safety and the value of safety should be applied in that manner.

Process Applications Are Limited To Technical Capability.
An investment in an airline or airport is the total cash invested in the operations. The return on this investment is based on several factors which at the end produces a profit or loss. A safety management system is neutral in producing profit of loss since it’s a system that does not produce or consume events and occurrences. A functional SMS is the financial comptroller of safety and a quality assurance program. In business, a comptroller is a management level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization. As a businesslike approach to safety, SMS is responsible for supervising the quality of safety.  A financial commitment or investment affects all aspects of the organization. An investment in an aircraft or new runway affects other areas such as maintenance, customer service and training. Depending on how this single investment is promoted, marketed and managed may increase the overall ROI of the organization, or may incur a major loss. An aircraft or runway in itself is profit or loss neutral. It is the management of operations that generate a profit of loss. SMS is in this same manner accident or incident neutral, but affects outcomes based on how the SMS tool is applied. It is the application of SMS as a tool to manage and lead operations which generate the profit, losses, incidents or accidents.

Return on Investment of SMS is not the savings by a reduction of accidents or incidents, but the return of cash revenue generated by in-control processes and organizational based safety investment decisions. When purchasing an aircraft, the operator is basing their judgement on what safety-nets the manufacturer has implemented. When building a new runway the airport is basing their judgement on safety-nets applied by the construction company.  When customers decide to purchase a ticket, or an airline decide to operate out of a specific airport, their decision to purchase is based on what safety-nets and assurance, or process controls of these safety-nets the airline or airport have in place. Safety management, or leadership in process management, is the overarching tool in decision making and therefore the only profit generator in an organization.

Comfort on an airplane is important, but if there is an apparent lack of safety then other carriers are chosen. This is the same with an airport; if the runway is marginal short for operations then the airlines chose other less convenient airports of operations. Safety is therefore the only profit generator and when applied in a businesslike approach to safety the ROI is the cash returned in operations, and not the absence of accidents.

ROI projections may apply the cost of accidents, but it is not the true ROI. The true ROI is the SMS decisions that went into the process of purchasing a new aircraft, or extending a runway which contributed to the ROI and is the ROI of safety. As an ROI projection the value of safety may be applied as $1.00 per second of time spent on task as the investment, and the actual $1.00 per second spent on task as revenue. Since both airplanes and runways are ROI neutral, it’s the Safety Management System decisions that produced the ROI, or the profit of loss result. There is no single operation within aviation that does not assess for safety and the impact safety has on profit. Not as an impact of reduction in incidents or accidents, but on customer confidence level of operations.

SPCforExcel   Out of Control Tests.
Without SMS there is zero confidence level of operational safety. Operators without an SMS may believe that they have a 100% confidence level of safety. However, when mathematically calculated their confidence level of safety is 0% since there is zero data to justify their statement. With an SMS in place the operational confidence level of safety is at least 95% even if wishful thinking is for safety to be 100%. The other unaccountable 5% of confidence levels are so remote that times between intervals of one occurrence is imaginary, theoretical, virtual, or fictional.

A Safety Management System is the Constitution of an organization and the tool for operations within a just culture and accountability where the ROI is the fraction of out of control testes. Processes within the Safety Management System are analyzed in a Statistical Process Control (SPC) system with multiple test for out of control processes. Each one of these tests are assigned a weight and applied to the ROI. Without data the value of safety and ROI is just an assessment of opinions.