Matthew McKay was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) pilot for 15 years. The second half of his RAAF career was as an instructor rising to the pinnacle of instructional excellence in the Australian Defence Force, and as a member of the RAAF Roulette formation aerobatic team. After leaving the RAAF he lived in Saudi Arabia with his family for eight years, working as a contract flying instructor for the Royal Saudi Air Force. On return to Australia he joined the Civil Aviation Safety Authority where he became a foremost expert in SMS, providing SMS training for CASA inspectors, and being integral in the development of SMS information for industry. He now works as an SMS consultant in both the aviation industry, as well as off-shore oil and gas installations. Throughout the summer he can be found in Antarctica working for the Australian Antarctic Division.
Safety Management System, for Real, or for the Regulator?
Does a Safety Management System increase efficiency and provide the safety oversight it is expected to? The answer; ‘yes it does – when tuned correctly.’
In accordance with ICAO recommendations, SMS must be implemented in commercial aviation for member states. Most commercial aviation organisations have already implemented SMS. But how to make it Operational and Effective, as opposed to Present and Suitable? How do we actually use it to enhance safety, and hence increase operational efficiency?
Drawing on the experience gained in helping to successfully implement SMS in Airbus Australia, Australian Defence Force, Christchurch Airport, Air Nelson, Jetstar, Mt Cook Airlines, as well as conducting public SMS courses on behalf of Southpac Aerospace, this presentation describes the challenges and rewards of SMS utilisation.
There is the much vexed question of required training of personnel for SMS. However, there is a clear training path required for critical safety personnel, frontline staff, middle managers and team leaders, and company management to help evolve the SMS towards operational and effective. Most importantly is the critical role of Safety Culture and Human Factors in the success of SMS.
There is a vast difference between a ‘Real SMS’ and a ‘Paper SMS’. Anyone can write a manual and meet the compliance process requirements for SMS. But it is the balance of leadership, culture and process that really makes SMS work and helps an organisation work towards a generative culture; a culture where ‘safety is just the way we do business around here’.
Perhaps most importantly, what are some barriers to an effective SMS.
Finally, how does a company work with the regulator for SMS compliance and how can ‘Operational and Effective SMS’ be demonstrated? The key is to adapt your SMS to meet the size and complexity of the organisation.