Safety Management Systems

BonanzaHigh Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

T-34_CCBayAviation System Safety
by Kent Lewis
An aviator’s job is to make up for the inefficiencies of the aviation system. Our system is a composite of personnel, equipment, materials, facilities, procedures, regulations, software, etc…Compliance with regulations and procedures alone is not enough to prevent mishaps.

“The application of a “Systems Approach” entails identifying all of the major components of a system and attempting to understand the potential influence that various system components have (individually and collectively) on overall system performance.” (Naval Postgraduate School Aviation Psychology Lecture Summaries, 1992, p.19)

The System Safety “life cycle” concept is an export from System Safety Engineering as found in MilStd 882. Applying the same principles to operational aviation safety minimizes risk by continually improving the operational safety process. The keys to this process are communication and integrity of the feedback loop.

We need structure and tools for systematic improvement, and the models below are tools to be utilized as basic system safety checklists . The 5 Step model below is utilized by DoD, the 3P Model is emerging from the FAA/Industry Training Standards (FITS) program and the Attitude Model is developed from the fundamental skills of Attitude Instrument Flying. Susan Parsons of the FAA wrote an excellent article comparing the 3P model to attitude flying. (FAA aviation News, 2005, p.1) I have gone a step further to compare all 3 checklists below. “Clark” Kent’s Triple A model, listed at the end, was developed by the author while creating this text and is excellent for rapid planning.
These checklists are flexible in scope and applicable to every segment of a Software, Hardware, Environment, Liveware (SHEL) model. Another model is Man, Machine, Mission, and Medium. Liveware, or Man, is the most important component of any system, because you initiate or conduct most of the model checklists and activities. These checklists can be used to plan some weekend VFR flying, evaluate emerging technology or change operational procedures at a major airline. One way to look at it, you are conducting an accident investigation before a human or material factors cause a failure of your safety program. Mishaps are seldom the result of single causes, but typically represent hazard events occurring in a single system. This proactive investigation will help you identify and eliminate all hazards before they turn into the causal factors of a mishap.

Safety Management System 4 Pillars


Risk Management



Level Zero Brief

The first step is to establish a foundation for your personal or organizational SMS. The FAA calls this "Level Zero". Level zero focuses on education and outreach to team members who will collaborate during development of a SMS. During Level Zero we will learn about SMS Philosophy and Principles. The next steps after Level Zero will be to establish Policy and incorporate Standards and Recommended Practices.

Here is a Level Zero Outreach and Education powerpoint that I created for the FAASTeam.

SMS Perspectives


Kent_SAR.JPGClark Kent’s model is simple: Ask - Assess - Act (Triple A)
I believe that the next step for the aviation industry is to apply the system safety process to… the system safety process, with a focus on leadership, human factors and standardization of operational procedures. Collaboration amongst all sectors of the aviation industry to establish a list of tactical issues and strategic priorities would be a good start. As a parting thought, remember…..
Attitude + Power (Knowledge) = Performance
This equation flies your aircraft, it will also optimize your aviation skills. Your professional attitude plus a desire to never stop learning help you make the leap from pilot to AVIATOR, or apprentice to craftsman.

Preflight yourself before you go…use the 3P Personal Minimums Checklist developed by Uncle Sam…and realize some return on your tax dollars…

To help pilots put the concept of ADM into practice, the FAA Aviation Safety Program developed a new framework for aeronautical decision-making and risk management: Perceive – Process – Perform.
This model offers a simple, systematic approach to accomplishing each ADM task during all phases of flight. To use it, you will:

external image 3P.gifPerceive the “given set of circumstances” for your flight.

Process by evaluating their impact on flight safety.

Perform by implementing the best course of action.

PAVE Checklist is a tool developed by the FAA to assess Pilot, Aircraft, enVironment and External Pressures before each flight.

Another model is to Crosscheck and Control, just like with instrument flying.

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