| Login

We Speak Aviation SMS Definitions from AC 120-92

Aviation SMS Terms for Airlines/Airports

Effective aviation SMS professionals learn the lingo/definitions behind aviation SMS. To review SMS terms from AC 120-92, we put this resource here so you know the language we speak in reference to aviation SMS Pro. To see AC 120-92 in its entirety, follow Advisory Circular AC 120-92

More Aviation SMS Definitions can be found here.

FAA Advisory Circular AC 120-92 Terms & Definitions

Accident – an unplanned event or series of events that results in death, injury, occupational illness, damage to or loss of equipment or property, or damage to the environment.

Analysis – the process of identifying a question or issue to be addressed, modeling the issue, investigating model results, interpreting the results, and possibly making a recommendation.  Analysis typically involves using scientific or mathematical methods for evaluation.

Assessment – process of measuring or judging the value or level of something.

Audit – scheduled, formal reviews and verifications to evaluate compliance with policy, standards, and/or contractual requirements.  The starting point for an audit is the management and operations of the organization, and it moves outward to the organization's activities and products/services.

Internal audit – an audit conducted by, or on behalf of, the organization being audited.

External audit – an audit conducted by an entity outside of the organization being audited.

Aviation system – the functional operation/production system used by the service provider to produce the product/service (see Figure 1).

Complete – nothing has been omitted and the attributes stated are essential and appropriate to the level of detail.

Continuous monitoring – uninterrupted watchfulness over the system.

Corrective action – action to eliminate or mitigate the cause or reduce the effects of a detected nonconformity or other undesirable situation.

Correct – accurately reflects the item with an absence of ambiguity or error in its attributes.

Documentation – information or meaningful data and its supporting medium (e.g., paper, electronic, etc.).  In this context it is distinct from records because it is the written description of policies, processes, procedures, objectives, requirements, authorities, responsibilities, or work instructions.

Evaluation – [ref. AC 120-59A] a functionally independent review of company policies, procedures, and systems.  If accomplished by the company itself, the evaluation should be done by an element of the company other than the one performing the function being evaluated.  The evaluation process builds on the concepts of auditing and inspection.  An evaluation is an anticipatory process, and is designed to identify and correct potential findings before they occur.  An evaluation is synonymous with the term systems audit. 

Hazard – any existing or potential condition that can lead to injury, illness, or death to people; damage to or loss of a system, equipment, or property; or damage to the environment.  A hazard is a condition that is a prerequisite to an accident or incident. 

Incident – a near miss episode with minor consequences that could have resulted in greater loss.  An unplanned event that could have resulted in an accident, or did result in minor damage, and indicates the existence of, though may not define, a hazard or hazardous condition. 

Lessons learned – knowledge or understanding gained by experience, which may be positive, such as a successful test or mission, or negative, such as a mishap or failure.  Lessons learned should be developed from information obtained from within, as well as outside of, the organization and/or industry.

Likelihood – the estimated probability or frequency, in quantitative or qualitative terms, of an occurrence related to the hazard.

Line management – management structure that operates the aviation system. 

Nonconformity – non fulfillment of a requirement (ref. ISO 9000). This includes but is not limited to noncompliance with Federal regulations. It also includes company requirements, requirements of operator developed risk controls or operator specified policies and procedures. 

Operational life cycle – period of time spanning from implementation of a product/service until it is no longer in use.

Oversight – a function that ensures the effective promulgation and implementation of the safety-related standards, requirements, regulations, and associated procedures.  Safety oversight also ensures that the acceptable level of safety risk is not exceeded in the air transportation system.  Safety oversight in the context of the safety management system will be conducted via oversight’s safety management system (SMS-O).

Preventive action – action to eliminate or mitigate the cause or reduce the effects of a potential nonconformity or other undesirable situation.

Procedure – specified way to carry out an activity or a process.

Process – set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs.

Product/service – anything that might satisfy a want or need, which is offered in, or can be purchased in, the air transportation system.  In this context, administrative or licensing fees paid to the government do not constitute a purchase.

Product/service provider – any entity that offers or sells a product/service to satisfy a want or need in the air transportation system.  In this context, administrative or licensing fees paid to the government do not constitute a purchase.  Examples of product/service providers include: aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers; aircraft operators; maintainers of aircraft, avionics, and air traffic control equipment; educators in the air transportation system; etc.  (Note: any entity that is a direct consumer of air navigation services and or operates in the U.S. airspace is included in this classification; examples include: general aviation, military aviation, and public use aircraft operators.)

Records – evidence of results achieved or activities performed.  In this context it is distinct from documentation because records are the documentation of SMS outputs.

Residual safety risk – the remaining safety risk that exists after all control techniques have been implemented or exhausted, and all controls have been verified.  Only verified controls can be used for the assessment of residual safety risk.

Risk – The composite of predicted severity and likelihood of the potential effect of a hazard in the worst credible system state.

Risk Control – refers to steps taken to eliminate hazards of to mitigate their effects by reducing severity and/or likelihood of risk associated with those hazards.

Safety assurance – SMS process management functions that systematically provide confidence that organizational products/services meet or exceed safety requirements.   

Safety culture – the product of individual and group values, attitudes, competencies, and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, the organization's management of safety.  Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.

Safety Management System (SMS) – the formal, top-down business-like approach to managing safety risk.  It includes systematic procedures, practices, and policies for the management of safety (as described in this document it includes safety risk management, safety policy, safety assurance, and safety promotion).

Product/Service Provider Safety Management System (SMS-P) – the SMS owned and operated by a product/service provider.

Oversight Safety Management System (SMS-O) – the SMS owned and operated by an oversight entity.

Safety objectives.17– something sought or aimed for, related to safety.

NOTE 1:  Safety objectives are generally based on the organization’s safety policy.

NOTE 2:  Safety objectives are generally specified for relevant functions and levels in the organization.

Safety planning18  – part of safety management focused on setting safety objectives and specifying necessary operational processes and related resources to fulfill the quality objectives. 

Safety risk – the composite of predicted severity and likelihood of the potential effect of a hazard.

Safety risk control – anything that reduces or mitigates the safety risk of a hazard.  Safety risk controls must be written in requirements language, measurable, and monitored to ensure effectiveness.

Safety risk management (SRM) – a formal process within the SMS composed of describing the system, identifying the hazards, assessing the risk, analyzing the risk, and controlling the risk.  The SRM process is embedded in the processes used to provide the product/service; it is not a separate/distinct process.

Safety promotion – a combination of safety culture, training, and data sharing activities that support the implementation and operation of an SMS in an organization

Severity – the consequence or impact of a hazard in terms of degree of loss or harm.

Substitute risk – risk unintentionally created as a consequence of safety risk control(s).

System – an integrated set of constituent elements that are combined in an operational or support environment to accomplish a defined objective.  These elements include people, hardware, software, firmware, information, procedures, facilities, services, and other support facets.

Top Management – (ref. ISO 9000-2000 definition 3.2.7) the person or group of people who directs and controls an organization.

Aviation SMS Products

Hazard Reporting Solution
Starting at

Hazard Reporting Solution offers incredible savings for thrifty companies needing high-quality aviation SMS software.

Risk Management Solution
Starting at

Risk Management Solution designed for operators with limited SMS budgets using simple user-friendly Web-based SMS tools.

Safety-Quality Assurance allows operators to advance their ICOA SMS implementations to the top level.

Starting at

SMS Pro Enterprise provides unlimited file storage space for SMS activities and access to ALL SMS Pro modules.

Alaska Web Design Company