Safety Management Systems - Esstentials for Regulators

A Safety Management Systems (SMS) Certificate Course

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What is a Safety Management System?

Inspections and Audits are often done in a compliance “checkbox” format. For example, an inspector goes into an organization and asks “Do you have a fire extinguisher in the lunch room?” If yes, the inspector checks the box. In SMS the inspector asks “do you have a fire extinguisher and do know how to use it?” It is more performance oriented. In performance based assessment the focus turns to questions such as “How do you do it? How do you perform?” and not just can I check the box. In order to successfully assess an operator’s SMS, an inspector (1) has to be trained how to shift away from simple compliance based assessment to a performance based assessment, and (2) has to have a solid understanding of what an SMS is in order to do a performance based assessment.

Many Safety Inspectors have been trained initially how to do an assessment of an organization’s SMS program but the assumption was that they (the safety inspectors) had an understanding of SMS which they did not. Consequently, their effectiveness in evaluating programs was diminished because they did not have that practical experience with an SMS. They were reading about the SMS programs. However, they were reading the same material that the operators were reading and based on that they were expected to go out and evaluate the operator’s SMS programs. For example, Safety Inspectors were often asked to describe an organization’s development of safety goals and objectives. Their response was that the company was responsible for developing them. They would have to wait and see what the company handed them. And, of course, they had no real understanding (no mental picture or mental model) of what goals and objectives should be so they could not really judge whether or not the goals and objectives handed them were any good or not. They were more likely to accept whatever was presented because they did not have the knowledge or skills to assess them properly. Often they just repeated what was in the regulations as a “fall back zone”. They would simply quote a chapter or requirement out of the regulation without any real understanding. As a result, SCSI has developed this course for regulators which teaches both (1) inspector training about how to assess someone else’s SMS and (2) training on what an SMS is all about.

In the assessment material in this course, the instructor will bring examples of many SMS assessment checklists that have recently been developed by Transport Canada along with the accompanying written expectations for an SMS program that safety inspectors can use. They are helpful and very practical. With the SMS approach, the goal is to move toward showing safety performance improvements versus simple compliance with the rules and regulations. Also, when a company asks for an SMS evaluation, the SMS program can be very large or complicated, or both. The question is where to start. This course provides an answer.

The course is fast paced, practical, and designed to be of immediate use to air safety inspectors. It is based on the ICAO SMS approach as shown in Figures 1 and 2.

References for the Essentials course include

  • ICAO Annex 6 Part I, (Operation of Aircraft); Annex 11, (Air Traffic Services); and Annex 14, (Aerodromes).
  • ICAO Manual on Certification of Aerodromes (Doc 9774)
  • ICAO Accident Prevention Program (Manual) 2005
  • Advisory Circular 119-165 Safety Management Training (Australia)
  • CAP 712 Safety Management Systems for Commercial Air Transport Operations (UK)
  • CAP 730 Safety Management Systems for Air Traffic Management (UK)
  • TP 13881, Safety Management Systems for Flight Operations and Aircraft Maintenance Organizations (Canada)
  • Operator’s Flight Safety Handbook, Issue #2, Global Aviation Information Network (GAIN)
  • SMS Implementation Procedures Guide, Transport Canada TP14343E, May 2005
  • FAA Advisory Circular 120-92 Introduction to Safety Management Systems for Air Operators, 6/22/2006.

Who Should Attend

Air Safety Inspectors and other regulatory personnel who will be called on to assess an SMS for airlines, an on-demand charter, an aerodrome, executive support airlift, a military flying activity. It can serve as a “first course” for inspectors who have not yet been trained, or as a “refresher” for those inspectors who have had experience in the field assessing SMSs. It is for any regulator who would like a course that teaches both what an SMS is and how to assess one. Attendees will be provided the information, knowledge, and checklists required to understand and assess an SMS in a wide variety of settings.

How You Will Benefit

  • You will learn safety management systems as applied to aviation operations.
  • You will learn the regulatory and administrative requirements for a safety program under various federal and international guidelines.
  • You will learn the ten basic SMS organizational components required to produce an effective SMS Risk Control Process and then how they should be developed in an organization tasked to show performance based results.
  • You will learn the concepts an SMS Risk Control Process and the practice of hazard identification and risk management will be reviewed and how to assess these processes in an organization.
  • You will be encouraged to focus on different components or elements of an SMS program that an organization has that you have been assigned in a case study, and ask detailed questions about it to gain a real understanding of what was involved in that aspect of an SMS program
  • You will become comfortable in doing risk assessments on your own using the new risk assessment tool without “coaches or facilitators”.
  • You will receive a list of SMS components that are required along with “key repeat safety issues to watch for” in each of the technical areas (aerodrome, ATS, Maintenance, and flight ops).
  • You will receive a “regulator’s toolkit” and six key checklists to bring along on an assessment.
  • SCSI will award 4.0 CEUs to each participant who successfully completes this course.

Course Topics

During this course the topics listed will be presented by the SCSI instructor in the classroom or on the web.

  • Assessing someone else’s SMS
  • ICAO Model and Components
  • Other SMS Models
  • SMS Responsibilities — How to tell who is in charge
  • What Regulators do and need to know
  • What operators do and need to know
  • What are SMS Goals and Objectives? Where do they come from?
  • Senior Management and SMS
  • Safety Culture
  • Implementation Effectiveness
  • Assessing the Safety Culture
  • Hazard ID or Operations Normal and short cuts?
  • Risk Management
  • Risk Management examples and exercises
  • Five Common Challenges that Safety Inspectors will face
  • SMS Investigations: proactive or performance based?
  • Safety Analysis
  • Safety Analysis resources for Safety Inspectors
  • Safety Promotion and Training
  • Assessing In-house Training programs
  • Putting Training and Promotion into an SMS format
  • What SMS documentation to look for when assessing
  • What documents to expect
  • SMS Oversight
  • Non Punitive: Punish or Prevent?
  • Emergency Response: Swissair 111 Example
  • SMS Flight Ops: What tools are available for regulators and operators?
  • SMS Flight Ops: Key repeat safety issues to watch for.
  • Implementing SMS in Flight Ops
  • SMS Flight Ops examples and case studies
  • SMS and ATC ops
  • Key repeat Safety Issues to watch for in ATC Ops
  • Implementing SMS in ATC ops
  • ATC ops examples and case study
  • SMS and Aerodromes
  • Key repeat safety issues to watch for in Aerodrome ops
  • Aerodrome ops examples and case study
  • SMS and Maintenance
  • Key repeat safety issues to watch for in Maintenance
  • How to pinpoint the accountable manager
  • Finding out if the SMS is “real” or a paper drill
  • The Regulator Tool Kit
  • Detecting and dealing with resistance
  • Six key checklists to bring along
  • Dealing with setbacks
  • Some Common Gaps
  • Guiding and assisting others
  • SMS expectations: the SMS dirty dozen.
  • What to do when you don’t know what to do
  • Five basic SMS lessons learned
  • How to prepare for a visit: Where do I start? Then what?
  • Summary and Review


Course Administration

This course may be taken either in person in a classroom in Southern California or it may be taken on the web. The Safety Management Systems Classroom Course consists of 5 days (40 hours) of classroom instruction and the web version of the course is self paced. The course topics covered and material presented in both the classroom and web version of this course are the same. Classroom participants receive lecture outlines, additional reference material, and a Certificate of Completion. PDF versions of all course material will be made available to web attendees. Classroom classes begin at 0800 and end at 5 PM on the last day.

This course is also available, by contract, at a time and location of your choice.