Incident investigations have long been a key part of Safety Management System activities that a good airport operator is expected to undertake.
Safety reporting is the life-blood of a modern safety management system. In the early days of implementation, a great deal of effort was (and still is) expended in increasing the reporting of safety events (incidents and other occurrences) and hazards. As an industry, we’ve discussed and debated no-blame and just cultures. We’ve promulgated policies and waved flags, telling our team members that we can’t manage what we don’t measure. And we’ve implemented safety occurrence reporting systems to capture all this information.
If we’ve been successful in these endeavours, we’ve then faced a new problem - what do we do with all these reports? A classic case of be careful what you wish for!
As an avgeek, I love pictures and videos of aircraft coming into land low over beaches, roads and anything else that happens to be near the end of runways. But should we continue to accept injuries to and the death of people who congregate in these areas during aircraft operations?
Image credit: Richie Diesterheft
In my second series of articles over at New Airport Insider, I explored the concept of safety assurance. As a "pillar" of Safety Management Systems, I thought I would take a good look at it. I was working very heavily within a highly structured safety assurance system at the time and I leveraged that experience to help me write these articles.
All three on my children have been brought into the world of reading partially through the works of Dr Seuss. I can't count the number of times I have read his books. As my kids have grown older, they have turned into the reader and read these amazing books back to me.
The Bike Lesson is one of my favourites for the very nerdy reason that towards the end of the book The Berenstains provide us with a short & succinct definition of safety. It's three simple stanzas that I think encapsulate modern safety management perfectly.
Once upon a time, I went around the countryside auditing aerodrome safety management systems and dutifully asking SMS-related questions of all and sundry. It didn't matter who they were, I asked them what they knew about the aerodrome's SMS, how they managed risks, and what did they do to make sure everything was being well managed. I didn't ask everyone the exact same questions, like asking the guy mowing the grass how he ensured enough resources are available to manage safety, but I did bang the SMS gong at/to anyone who was around or would listen. I'm not so sure that was the right approach.
The week before last, I finished a 4-year stint with the aviation safety regulator. Even though I'm heading back to industry, I'm not going to stop writing this blog. I believe that the role of the national regulator is the next safety frontier (not the last ;)) and I like the idea of exploring new territory. As the industry continues to explore concepts like safety management, systems-based this, risk-based that and outcome-based whatchamacallit as well as safety culture, we are all going to come to the realisation that safety can be greatly affected (more than we ever imagined) by the approach and actions taken by a national regulator.
I've just spent an amazing week in Bali1 workshopping with operators and regulators from the Asia-Pacific region (and some from further afield) on the issue of runway safety. We got a lot of good information from the Flight Safety Foundation, ICAO and COSCAP as well as airlines, airports and regional regulators. The primary objective of the week was to provide information on and practice in the establishment and conduct of Local Runway Safety Teams (LRSTs). To this end, the seminars and workshop were great but I left feeling like one connection had been missed. The final question on my mind and many others, I am sure, was:
How do these runway safety initiatives integrate into my SMS?
Image: Agência Brasil
I've heard this saying quite a bit over the last few months and in at least one aspect, I agree with the statement. It tends to be true that regulations have failed to keep pace with industry. As such, blind compliance with the regulation no longer ensures an accident-free existence. So what is the solution?
Image: Tanathip Rattanatum