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Julian Tubb, director at aviation consultancy Total AOC, explains how business airport operators can make the most of their safety management system
As a business airport operator, you will already have a safety management system (SMS) in place. However, to truly reap the benefits of that system and improve your operations, it’s essential to go beyond just SMS and make the most of a complete operational management system. By doing so, you could further improve the efficiency of your operations and make your airport an even more attractive location for operators when you show them how easy it is for them to work with you.
Unify your systems
The first step in making the most of your management system is to get into the mindset that everything should be unified within one system – not just safety, but risk, quality, training, documents, meetings and workflows, all handled through a comprehensive management dashboard. A standalone electronic SMS may seem effective as a quick solution, but if you don’t fully integrate all aspects of your operations into a single system, that SMS can actually cause more issues than it solves. Instead, what is required is a more holistic approach to role-based actions, management processes and workflows.
In my experience as an auditor for many business airports, it is often the case that there are multiple disjointed systems handling different parts of the operation. That increases complexity, makes it harder to communicate important information and ultimately could impede the overall goal of any SMS – to quickly share safety data and ensure action is taken to mitigate hazards.
Build a proactive culture
The next step is to use that complete management system to build a stronger safety culture. If you have a holistic management system that details everything taking place within an operation, it’s much easier to follow the positive outcomes arising from the filing of a report. A manager can see the report, and trace the actions that have been allocated across the organization. SMS on its own doesn’t provide this positive feedback, but with a complete management system, users will understand that their contributions matter, which encourages them to be proactive – exactly what you want from your safety culture.
Make audits and regulation easier
The third step is to use the system to improve relationships with operators and regulators. With a complete operational management system that is updated in real time and available online, it’s much easier for an airport, operators and regulators to share information when required in advance of audits. That means auditing on all sides is much simpler and can be completed far more quickly. A standalone safety management system can’t do this.
Therefore, when looking at implementing SMS, look beyond your immediate requirements. Implementing a more holistic management system will make your own management of every element of airport operations easier and simpler – and in turn, makes it easier for operators to choose your facilities for their business, while keeping the regulator happy. With those benefits on offer, why would you stop at SMS alone?
About the author
Julian Tubb has worked in aviation for 20 years and through Total AOC is a postholder for a variety of airports and operators.
May 31, 2016