Safety In Aviation

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Safety Program in the Aviation Industry

Safety Program in the Aviation Industry


With additional doctrinal decisions pace comes increased exposure to risk. Risk management is on center stage as an example of the shift in culture for fire and aviation managers. This process is one function of the four pillars embedded in the modern approach to accident prevention called the Safety Management System (SMS).

SMS has tremendous potential for establishing uniform safety standards and reducing risk across interagency firefighting efforts. Adoption of SMS is significantly more complex than simply adding a few new rules and providing additional training. SMS is typically characterized as a structure of systems to identify, describe, communicate, track, control, and eliminate risks. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a sub-organization of the United Nations, created the model for SMS in its own aviation safety programs. The formal definition of SMS is “a systematic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, account abilities, policies, and procedures” (ICAO 2009). Those events raised an awareness of a cultural component of risk assessment that was not previously understood. It became obvious that a pattern of structural failures was occurring, and resulting losses were deemed acceptable by the aviation culture of that time. The National Transportation Safety Board investigators recommended greater oversight of the airworthiness of air tankers and a change in the existing management culture (Wells, 2004).

As a result, the Forest Service mandated continuous airworthiness inspections to detect and mitigate structural problems before they manifested themselves as component failures. This was the first step in the movement toward SMS in the Forest Service aviation program. SMS is based on a proactive approach to safety rather than a reactive one. The proactive approach engages practitioners in collecting data for analysis of operations, identifying risks, and determining the best methods of mitigating them before shortcomings result in an accident. It is important to note here that this approach locates risk identification and mitigation in the field with the operator. This is also a change from prior practices, in which responsibility for safety resided primarily trust already exist, but more often, it will take time to establish a foundation for this relationship. Tools that promote growth in these relationships are found in the areas of policy, safety assurance, safety promotion, and risk management.

These pillars of SMS are designed to encourage communications, reporting, and feedback on the system's inputs and outputs and foster continuous improvement. New data-gathering processes are being developed for fire and aviation management to provide safety managers with the necessary information for analysis. Revised policies allow more employee discretion (doctrinal) in working creatively with the contractor to get the job done efficiently and safely. To encourage these processes, all national aviation contracts now require that the service provider maintain an SMS program within the company and demonstrate SMS performance to the contracting officer during the competitive bid process (Vincoli, 2006).

Safety in Aviation

Historically, safety has been the mission priority and universal norm for the worldwide aviation ...
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