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SMS Pro For Airports - Compare FAA Guidelines to SMS Pro Functionality

What follows is AC No: AC 150/5200-37 and how SMS Pro addresses the items outlined in this AC. You will see the original text with my comments in Blue. If you ever need a demo or more information how your organization can implement SMS Pro, please don't hesitate to contact me at [email protected] nwds-ak.com, 907.227.1676

Chapter 1: General Information


This chapter provides general guidelines for Aviation Safety Management Systems (SMSs). The benefits of an SMS would apply to all activities at an airport. However, any action by the FAA to amend 14 CFR Part 139 to implement a requirement for an SMS would be limited to those areas subject to 14 CFR Part 139 regulation. Accordingly, the following general guidelines should not be taken as an indication of the content or scope of a possible future FAA rule relating to SMS.

1.2. Definitions.

Gap Analysis Identification of existing safety components, compared to SMS program requirements. Gap analysis provides an airport operator an initial SMS development plan and roadmap for compliance.

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.

Risk Assessment – Assessment of the system or component to compare the achieved risk level with the tolerable risk level.

Safety Assessment – A systematic, comprehensive evaluation of an implemented system.

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

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 (including safety risk management, safety policy, safety assurance, and safety promotion).

Safety Policy – Defines the fundamental approach to managing safety that is to be adopted within an organization. Safety policy further defines the organization’s commitment to safety and overall safety vision.

Safety promotion A combination of safety culture, training, and data sharing activities that supports the implementation and operation of an SMS in an organization.

Safety risk The composite of the likelihood (i.e., risk) of the potential effect of a hazard, and predicted severity of that effect. As an example, the possibility of an overshoot by an aircraft landing on an icy runway would be considered a safety risk of the hazard. The hazard is “icy runway” and the risk is “possibility of an overshoot.”

Safety risk control Anything that mitigates the safety risk of a hazard. Safety risk controls necessary to mitigate an unacceptable risk should be mandatory, measurable, and monitored for 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 operational system; is not a separate/distinct process.

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

System(s) – An integrated set of 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 environment.

Top Management – The person or group of people who direct and control an organization. Sometimes it is also referred to as Senior Management.

1.3. Safety Culture

Effective safety management requires more than establishing an appropriate organizational structure and establishing rules and procedures to be followed. It requires a commitment to safety on the part of senior management. The attitudes, decisions and methods of operation at the policy-making level demonstrate the priority given to safety.

A key indicator of management’s commitment to safety is the adequacy of resources. Establishing a management structure, assigning responsibility and accountability, and allocating appropriate resources must be consistent with the organization’s stated safety objectives.

1) SMS Pro provides an "interactive" Org Chart for organizations to communicate the clear reporting lines of the management structure. SMS Pro's interactive Org Chart allows editors to easily add information, such as appointed user's training & qualifications that make him suitable for the assigned position.

2) Duties & Requirements module displays the SMS responsibilities of all users. For example, one SMS Pro client listed duties & requirements for:

  • Accountable Executive
  • Director of Flight Operations
  • Safety Systems Manager (SSM)
  • Director, Manager or Supervisor
  • Quality Assurance Department
  • Risk Management System Committee (RMSC)
  • Flight Safety Committee (Flight OPS)
  • All Employees
  • Sub-Contractors/Contractors
  • Visitors/Guests
  • Customers/Customer Representatives

This module allows user to see not only their SMS responsibilities, but also others in the organization. This promotes transparency and decreases ambiguity.

In effective safety cultures, there are clear reporting lines, clearly defined duties and well understood procedures. Personnel fully understand their responsibilities and know what to report, to whom and when. Senior management reviews not only the financial performance of the organization but also its safety performance.

1) SMS Pro provides an "interactive" Org Chart for organizations to communicate the clear reporting lines of the management structure.

2) SMS Pro's Policy Manager allows the management of SMS policies. Quickly edit & display policies in real time for the organization to see. Four policy templates come with SMS Pro:

  • CEO Commitment to Safety
  • Safety Policy
  • Non-punitive Reporting Policy
  • About Reporting Issues

The last policy allows organizations to communicate what type of issues to report, when to report and how to report the issues. These four core policies are also integrated into SMS Pro's modules, which allows users to easily see these living documents where they are most relevant.

For example, CEO Commitment to Safety is the first item users see when logging into their personal space. Another example is the Non-punitive Reporting Policy is the first item users see when reporting issues using SMS Pro's Issue Reporting module.

3) Senior management can easily review the safety performance of the organization using SMS Pro's "Performance Monitor." Quickly see:

  • Latest SMS reporting statistics
  • SMS financial data
  • Organizational responsiveness to reported issues
  • Investigation statistics
  • Safety meeting statistics
  • Trending Charts
  • Bottom Line Report

SMS Pro's QuickTable™ is another risk management tool to quickly monitor the health of the SMS. One can quickly view issues by Risk Level (High, Significant, Medium, Low) and Status (Open, In Progress, Closed...). What's nice about the QuickTable™ is that you can click the links in the table to take you right into the Issue Manager for management.

Another view allows the review of issues by Risk Level and the Type of Reported Issue (Safety, Security, Quality & Compliance. QuickTable™ is another great SMS Pro tool to help you effectively manage risk.

Safety culture, then, is both attitudinal and structural, relating to individuals and organizations. It concerns the requirement to not only perceive safety issues but also match them with appropriate action. Safety culture relates to such intangibles as personal attitudes and the style of the organization. It is therefore difficult to measure, especially when the principal criterion for measuring safety is the absence of accidents and incidents. Yet, personal attitudes and corporate style enable or facilitate the unsafe acts and conditions that are the precursors to accidents and incidents. Therefore, safety culture may affect systems safety either negatively or positively.

Chapter 2: Elements of A Safety Management System

2.1. General

Effective safety management requires a systems approach to the development of safety policies, procedures and practices to allow the organization to achieve its safety objectives. Similar to other management functions, safety management requires planning, organizing, communicating and providing direction.

A SMS provides a proactive, systematic, and integrated method of managing safety for airport operators. Essential to a SMS are formal safety risk management procedures that provide risk analysis and assessment.

Generally accepted industry standards and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)guidance describe Safety Management Systems in terms of four distinct elements. They include:

  • Safety Policy and Objectives
  • Safety Risk Management
  • Safety Assurance
  • Safety Promotion
    • Following this convention, SMS Pro's four main menu items are:
    • Policy
    • Risk Management
    • Safety Assurance
    • Safety Promotion

2.2. Safety Policy and Objectives

2.2.1 Safety Policy

Management’s commitment to safety should be formally expressed in a statement of the organization’s safety policy. This policy should reflect the organization’s safety philosophy and become the establishment of the SMS. The safety policy outlines the methods and processes that the organization will use to achieve desired safety outcomes. A safety policy will be signed by Top Management and will typically contain the following attributes:

  • The commitment of senior management to implement SMS
  • A commitment to continual safety improvement
  • The encouragement of employees to report safety issues without fear of reprisal
  • A commitment to provide the necessary safety resources
  • A commitment to make safety the highest priority

SMS Pro's Policy Manager allows the management of SMS policies. Quickly edit & display policies in real time for the organization to see. Four policy templates come with SMS Pro:

  • CEO Commitment to Safety
  • Safety Policy
  • Non-punitive Reporting Policy
  • A commitment to provide the necessary safety resources
  • About Reporting Issues

CEO Commitment to Safety is the first item users see when logging into their personal space. The Non-punitive Reporting Policy is the first item users see when reporting issues using SMS Pro's Issue Reporting module.

2.2.1 Safety Objectives

SMS requires the support of senior management. SMS also requires that Top Management in the organization, one with the authority to adequately control resources, be assigned SMS responsibilities. In addition to having a basic understanding of the SMS, effective decision-makers understand how to use SMS outputs as inputs to the SMS lifecycle as described in Figure 2-1.

SMS Pro's Goals & Objectives module allows managers to display their Goals & Objectives to the entire organization. Existing statistics are made available from SMS Pro's outputs so managers can easily see "past performance" and set objectives to improve.

SMS Pro provides two types of objectives, Auto-Tracked (using existing database performance statistics) and Manually-Tracked. Since it is impossible to foresee every type of objective that an organization may conjure, we provide the manually tracked objectives. For example, Company X has a corporate objective to provide 8000 charitable hours in an annual community event. Using SMS Pro, managers can post the objective and update it regularly so users can see current progress.

Since Auto-Tracked Objectives are hooked to the database, users can witness results in real-time.

Executives and managers also understand when safety risk management is necessary, and when to elevate decisions and the supporting information to a higher level. Some key elements of accountability within an organization are:

  • The organization’s policy concerning responsibility and accountability, including written guidance regarding the safety authorities and responsibilities of all key personnel assigned to the airport (SMS Pro's Duties & Requirements module)
  • Identification within the system of someone responsible for administration of the overall SMS. Often, that one responsible person will be the Safety Manager. This person reports to the highest level of management to assure appropriate consideration of all reports, recommendations, and issues
    When users login to SMS Pro, there is a tab for the Safely Manager information in their personal work-space. Each user is assigned to a "Division" and each division can have one or more safety officers. A template is provided for organizations to input safety officer contact information and a photo if desired.
  • At larger airports, operations may support the Safety Manager being a full-time permanent employee and in some cases having a support staff. Some airports may have an existing risk management office that could substantially meet SMS safety management requirements
  • The responsibilities of the Safety Manager are clearly defined along with identified lines of communication within the organization
    SMS Pro's Org Chart clearly shows how the Safety Manager communicates to top management.
  • Depending on the size and complexity of the airport’s operation, it may be useful to establish a safety committee. The safety committee acts as a source of expertise for the Safety Manager and is chaired by the Safety Manager

How an organization arranges its method of conducting business and managing safety will influence its resilience to hazardous situations and its ability to reduce risks. To ensure responsible safety management, successful organizations follow a disciplined approach to documentation and information management.

The process of formal documentation clarifies the relationship of the SMS to other organizational functions and the integration of SMS activities. Further, the documentation process defines how SMS activities relate to the organization’s operating policies. The contents of this documentation may be in the form of safety reporting records, surveys, hazard reporting forms, and risk analysis/mitigation processes.

It is important that the organization maintain a record of the measures taken to fulfil the objectives of the SMS. These records may be required in the event of a formal investigation of an accident or serious incident and should be maintained in sufficient detail to ensure traceability of all significant safety-related decisions.

SMS Pro has six modules to facilitate documentation and communication within an organization.

1) Read File (logs username and date user downloaded file. Validates users have read safety memos.);

2) Document Manager (allows users to checkout documents, managers to upload revisions);

3) Policy Manager (contains SMS policies with an easy Web menu);

4) Duties & Requirements Manager (contains all users' Roles & Responsibilities in a easy Web menu. Duties & Requirements has also been used for Roles & Responsibilities);

5) Meeting Manager - Documents Safety Meetings' agenda, attendees, minutes & emails PDFs.

6) Safety Survey is an effective tool in developing and sustaining an SMS. User can complete and get results in real time. Other features include:

  • Questions are quick and easy to layout
  • Choose multiple or single answer selection
  • Survey results can be made public or private
  • Votes can be limited to one voter per user or per cookie
  • Automatic survey close date

NOTE: The Airport SMS should be distributed as necessary to educate and inform the airport staff. If the FAA adopts a rule to make a SMS mandatory at some or all certificated airports, SMS documentation related to 14 CFR Part 139 responsibilities would be incorporated into the Airport Certification Manual (ACM) or added as an appendix. As an appendix to the ACM, the Airport SMS, to the extent it relates to 14 CFR Part 139, would be subject to the same document control measures as any other part of the ACM.

SMS Lifecycle Overview - Best Airport SMS around for FAA Overview

2.3. Safety Risk Management

Safety Risk Management (SRM) is at the heart of any Safety Management System.  It is through the SRM process that an organization identifies hazards, determines potential risks, and designs appropriate risk mitigation strategies. Safety Risk Management is discussed in Chapter 3.

SMS Pro's Risk Manager is called Issue Manager. Reported Issues are initially classified as either safety, security, quality or compliance. After users report issues, emails are sent to the reporting user and configured managers. Safety managers then classify, assess, manage costs, recommend corrective actions and conduct investigations. Department Heads then assign corrective actions and ensure the issue is managed satisfactorily.

2.4. Safety Assurance

Safety Assurance includes self-auditing, external auditing, and safety oversight. Safety oversight can be achieved through auditing and surveillance practices, given the diverse activities at commercial airports.

SMS Pro integrates auditing capabilities at three levels:

1) Individual issues maintain audit history across auditors and dates audited;

2) Custom inspection forms can be created once and used many times in the Web-based environment. These forms can be independent. When using the forms, users can report findings, concerns or submit new issues.

3) Custom audit forms can also be created based on mitigation and recovery measures identified in theOperational Risk Profile.

In addition to the airport operator’s existing responsibilities for self-inspection and correction of discrepancies under 14 CFR Part 139, an effective airport SMS audit program should:

  • Develop identified safety performance indicators and targets (SMS Pro's Goals & Objectives module)
  • Monitor adherence to safety policy through self-auditing (See SMS Pro auditing remarks above)
  • Allocate adequate resources for safety oversight
  • Solicit input through a non-punitive safety reporting system (SMS Pro has a non-punitive reporting policy as the first step in the Hazard Reporting Module)
  • Systematically review all available feedback from daily self-inspections, assessments, reports, safety risk analysis, and safety audits (SMS Pro makes this easy in Issue Manager, where users can see everything in one place.)
  • Communicate findings to staff and implement agreed-upon mitigation strategies (14 CFR Part 139 already requires this for actions covered by that regulation) (SMS Pro emails managers as configured. Users, Safety Managers and Department Heads recommend corrective actions. Department Heads assign users to implement chosen corrective actions to mitigate the issue. Department Heads manage corrective actions until they are implemented satisfactorily.)
  • Promote integration of a systems approach to safety into the overall operation of the airport

A systems approach to safety management addresses significant hazards and the possible risks these hazards may present to employees and the public. Individuals responsible for developing the SMS program should work with the persons that have direct responsibility for analyzing hazards, identifying control measures derived from that analysis, and ensuring those measures are effective. Similarly, individuals responsible for operations should have direct responsibility for the safety of those operations and should be given the resources to implement the necessary controls.

Feedback is necessary to assess how well the SMS is working. This is achieved through safety oversight, performance monitoring, and continuous improvement processes.

SMS Pro's Performance Monitor displays on one Web page charts and metrics of Key Performance Indicators. Continue improvement is measured and monitored using the Gap Analysis and Goals & Objectives modules. Organizations can start their SMS process with an initial Gap Analysis. They then set performance objectives based on the Gap Analysis results. Charts compare historical Gap Analysis results to determine where the organization has made improvements or regressed.

The SMS should include a visible non-punitive safety reporting system supported by management. The safety reporting system should permit feedback from personnel regarding hazards and safety-related concerns. The SMS should use this information to identify and address safety deficiencies. The safety reporting system may also identify and correct non-conformance to safety policy.

The first page of the Hazard Reporting System displays the non-punitive reporting policy. This policy is placed where it does the most good and serves as a reminder to users reporting issues. Users can recommend corrective actions as they may be the subject matter experts. After the user submits an issue, an email is sent to the user and all configured managers of the issue. Links are included in the email that drive the user to the issue in SMS Pro. Users can view their reported issues at any time and easily see what is being done to correct the issue.

Safety auditing is a core safety management activity. Similar to financial audits, safety audits provide a means for systematically assessing how well the organization is meeting its safety objectives. Top Management may choose to have an external agency audit the system (e.g., by a consultant or another airport operator). The safety audit, together with other safety oversight activities, provides feedback to managers concerning the overall safety performance of the organization.

SMS Pro integrates auditing capabilities at three levels:

1) Under the "Assess" tab in Issue Manager, individual issues can be audited by users with the SMS_Auditor role. Audit history across auditors and dates audited is maintained. In Quick Sort, auditors can quickly see which issues they have audited, or issues that other auditors have reviewed within a specified date range;

2) Custom inspection forms can be created and used by all users in the Web-based environment. These forms can be independent of reported issues. When using the forms, users can report findings, concerns or submit new issues. SMS Pro's audit function has a management utility for responsible managers to ensure that all findings, concerns and corrective actions are addressed.

3) Custom audit forms can also be created based on mitigation and recovery measures identified in the Operational Risk Profile. This is a sophisticated process that is managed in the proactive phases of an organization's SMS implementation plan.

Safety performance monitoring validates the SMS, confirming the organization’s safety objectives. Through regular review and evaluation, management can pursue continuous improvements in safety management and may revise safety objectives to ensure that the SMS remains effective and relevant to the organization’s operation.

2.5. Safety Promotion

Safety Promotion includes:

  • Training and education (SMS Pro's Qualification & Training Manager module)
  • Safety communication (SMS Pro's Read File and Meeting Manager modules)
  • Safety competency and continuous improvement (SMS Pro's Gap Analysis & Goals & Objectives modules)

The Safety Manager provides current information and training relating to safety issues relevant to the specific operation of the airport. The provision of appropriate training to all staff, regardless of their level in the organization, is an indication of management’s commitment to an effective SMS. Safety training and education should consist of the following:

  • A documented process to identify training requirements
  • A validation process that measures the effectiveness of training
  • Initial (general safety) job-specific training
  • Recurrent safety training
  • Indoctrination/initial training incorporating SMS
  • Training that includes human factors and organizational factors

Training requirements and activities should be documented for each area of activity within the organization. A training file should be developed for each employee, including management, to assist in identifying and tracking employee training requirements and verifying that the personnel have received the planned training. Any training program should be adapted to fit the needs and complexity of the airport in question. At certificated airports this is already being done for training required by 14 CFR Part 139.

SMS Pro has a Qualification & Training manager. It works as follows:

1) Manager identifies (creates) roles and position within the organization;

2) Manager identifies required training, including costs, expiration period & providing organization;

3) Manager assigns required training to roles and positions;

4) Manager assigns users to identified roles and positions;

When users are trained, their training & qualifications are updated and managed. Expiring training & qualifications are easily identifiable by both managers and users. User receive an alert when they login advising them that they have training or qualifications about to expire. Users are able to request training via SMS Pro, which emails assigned training managers the requests.

The airport operator/safety manager should communicate safety goals and procedures to all employees.

Goals & Objectives are visible to all employees when they login to their personal work-space. Furthermore, procedures can be managed in the Read File where managers can validate users have read the procedures.

The safety management system should be visible in all aspects of the airport operation. Systems safety is a good business practice and should be promoted accordingly. The safety manager should communicate the health of the airport SMS program through bulletins, briefings and training. The safety manager should ensure that lessons learned from hazardous occurrence investigations and case history or experiences, both internally and from other organizations, are distributed widely.

Lessons Learned can be distributed in two ways in SMS Pro:

1) Standard newsletter functionality; and

2) Lessons Learned generated and redacted from Issue Manager's "Investigation."

Lessons Learned are then made available in the Lessons Learned Library. In the Lessons Learned Library, lessons are categorized by organizations' customizable classification schema under the "Classify" tab in Issue Manager.

The communication should flow between the safety manager to the organization. Systems safety improvement will occur most efficiently if staff and employees are actively encouraged to identify potential hazards and propose solutions. Some examples of organizational communication are:

  • Safety seminars
  • Safety letters, notices and bulletins
  • Safety lessons-learned
  • Bulletin boards, safety reporting drop boxes, and electronic reporting through web sites or email
  • A method to exchange safety-related information with other airport operators through regional offices or professional organizations
  • In the future, voluntary posting of safety-related information on an existing FAA web-based safety reporting system currently being used by air operators

As part of a continuous improvement process, the common element of many quality programs, the evolution of systems safety is dependent upon the SMS life cycle. As hazards are identified, risks determined and mitigated through corrective actions, system improvements through training and revised policies and procedures, then follow-up begins the safety process over again. The diagram in Figure 2-1 gives a brief overview of how the SMS lifecycle might look at a large airport using tenant/operator safety committees.

Chapter 3: Safety Risk Management (SRM)

3.1. General

SRM is a fundamental component of SMS. To be truly effective a SMS must have a formal risk assessment program that identifies and documents hazards on the airport. An SMS:

  • Determines associated risk(s)
  • Identifies the severity and probability of the occurring risk(s)
  • Develops mitigation strategies as appropriate
  • Applies, tracks, and monitors the mitigation strategy
  • Assesses and modifies strategies as necessary

A hazard is a condition, object or activity with the potential for causing damage, loss, or injury. A risk is the chance of loss or injury measured in terms of severity and probability.

SMS Pro's Issue Manager receives input from the Hazard Reporting module. Emails with hyper links are sent to configured managers when issues are reported. Safety Managers follow the links to Issue Manager, where they:

  • Review the details
  • Classify the issue per configurable schemas
  • Determine associated risks
  • Assess the issue by probability & severity
  • Recommend corrective actions
  • Assign responsible managers and targeted closure dates
  • Track costs associated with the issue
  • Conduct investigations
  • Generate lessons learned

Assigned Department Heads are notified via email of their assigned issue and manage corrective actions. Department Heads can accept others corrective actions or create their own. They assign corrective actions to members in the organization. When corrective actions are completed an email is sent to the Department Head, who verifies the corrective action has been completed satisfactorily. Department Heads accept or reject performance. When all corrective actions have been completed, Safety Managers are notified and dispose of the issue as policy dictates.

When issues are closed, they are assigned a "Next Review Date," for Safety Managers to follow up and determine the effectiveness of implemented controls.

3.2. SRM Background Information

SRM is a systematic, explicit, and comprehensive approach for managing safety risk at all levels throughout the airport. A comprehensive SMS using SRM will develop layers of safety built upon the measures taken to mitigate risk. These layers are examples of implemented protective measures such as vehicle driver’s training programs, marking and lighting standards and reflective vests.

An unsafe event can occur when gaps occur in the system’s protective layers. These gaps are not static and may appear unexpectedly. In order for an incident or accident to take place there is normally a succession of gaps in a system that will line up and enable an event to occur.

3.3. The Five Phases of SRM

There are five phases to the SRM Process:

Phase 1. Describe the system

Phase 2. Identify the hazards

Phase 3. Determine the risk

Phase 4. Assess and analyze the risk

Phase 5. Treat the risk ( i.e., mitigate, monitor and track )

Phase 1 : Describe the system. When considering the environment of the airport system, consider all of the safety-related functions already outlined in the ACM. The existing safety functions should steer the focus of the risk management analysis and will assist in determining potential mitigation strategies.

Phase 2: Identify Hazards. In this phase, hazards to the system (i.e., operation, equipment, people, and procedures) are identified in a systematic, disciplined way. There are many ways to do this, but all require at least four elements:

  • Operational expertise
  • Training in SMS, and if possible, hazard analysis techniques
  • A simple, but well-defined, hazard analysis tool
  • Adequate documentation of the process

The hazard identification effort should mirror the management structure and complexity of the airport in question. The airport manager at a small airport could conduct it alone, while it may be conducted by a committee or group at a larger airport. Regardless, the person or the group will require sufficient operations expertise, safety experience, and training to adequately conduct the assessment.

SMS Pro's hazard analysis tools is Safety Risk Manager. Users create an Operational Risk Profile from a "Shared Risk Library." Airports share similar risks and are able to start their profile based on the experiences and input from identified hazards of other airports. (Shared Risk Libraries are only available to client sites hosted by NWDS. Clients that use SMS Pro on their Intranet and host the application on their servers will not be able to share the risk library.)

Once an Operation Risk Profile has been filled with identified hazards, each hazard is assessed using a Risk Matrix (probability and severity). "Estimated Annual Costs" may be determined using an "Assessed Cost Per Occurrence" multiplied by "Frequency Per Year." Hazards are color-coded to quickly identify risk levels.

Hazards are assigned responsible managers and a review cycle. Mitigation measures are also assigned to each hazard to reduce risks inherent to their operations. Next, a "Residual Risk Assessment" is conducted to determine whether the proposed mitigation strategies sufficiently reduce hazards' risk.

Associated risks are related/assigned in Issue Manager. One is able to see these related issues in the Safety Risk Manager.

Recovery measures are also identified in preparation that the hazard may occur.

The hazard identification stage considers all the possible sources of system failure. Depending on the nature and size of the system under consideration, these should include:

  • The equipment ( example: construction equipment on a movement surface )
  • Operating environment ( example: cold, night, low visibility )
  • Human element ( example: shift work )
  • Operational procedures ( example: staffing levels )
  • Maintenance procedures ( example: nightly movement area inspections by airport electricians )
  • External services ( example: ramp traffic by Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) or law enforcement vehicles )

Phase 3: Determine the risk. In this phase, each hazard in its system context is identified to determine what risks exist, if any, that may be related to the hazard. In this phase, there is no determination of the severity or potential of the risk occurring. First, all potential hazards are identified and documented. Next, the hazards are subjected to an assessment of the possible severity and potential risk as described in Phase 4.

In a very simple example, an airport may have identified the hazard of Foreign Object Damage (FOD) on the ramp, with the associated risk of the FOD being ingested into the engines of taxiing aircraft. That hazard and the identified risk would be documented before moving to Phase 4, a determination of the probability of that risk occurring, and the severity if such an event were to occur.

Phase 4: Assess and Analyze the Risk. In this Phase, the airport operator estimates the level of risk such as by using the predictive risk matrix in Figure 3-1.

Risk is the composite of the predicted severity and likelihood of the outcome or effect (harm) of the hazard in the worst credible system state. In order to assess the risk of an accident or incident occurring, severity and likelihood are first determined.

Severity is determined by the worst credible potential outcome. Less severe effects may be considered in addition to this, but at a minimum, the most severe effects are considered. Determination of severity is independent of likelihood, and likelihood should not be considered when determining severity. Over time, quantitative data may support or alter the determinations of severity and probability, but the initial risk determinations will most likely be qualitative in nature, based on experience and judgement more than data.

The risk levels used in the matrix can be defined as:

  • High risk – Unacceptable level of risk: The proposal cannot be implemented or the activity continued unless hazards are further mitigated so that risk is reduced to medium or low level. Tracking and management involvement are required, and management must approve any proposed mitigating controls. Catastrophic hazards that are caused by:
    (1) single-point events or failures
    (2) common-cause events or failures
    (3) undetectable latent events in combination with single point or common cause events are considered high risk, even if extremely remote
  • Medium risk – Acceptable level of risk: Minimum acceptable safety objective; the proposal may be implemented or the activity can continue, but tracking and management are required.
  • Low risk – Target level of risk: Acceptable without restriction or limitation; the identified hazards are not required to be actively managed, but are documented.

Hazards are ranked according to the severity and the likelihood of their risk, which is illustrated by where they fall on the risk matrix. Hazards with high risk receive higher priority for treatment and mitigation.

NOTE: At U.S. airports, many of the airport operator's actions are governed by standards issued by the FAA. The FAA would not expect an airport operator to conduct an independent risk analysis of an action or condition directed by a mandatory FAA standard or specification. Any discretionary action or decision by the airport operator in the application of the standards should still be analyzed.

Predictive Risk Matrix for Airports using SMS Pro

Phase 5: Treat the risk In this phase, the airport operator develops options to mitigate the risk and alternative strategies for managing a hazard’s risk(s). These strategies can be used to reduce the hazard’s effects on the system. It should be noted that the majority of risk management strategies address medium and high-risk hazards. Low-risk hazards may be accepted after considering risk.

The risk management activity should identify feasible options to control or mitigate risk. Some options could include:

  • Avoidance: selecting a different approach or not participating in, or allowing, the operation or procedure
  • Assumption: accepting the likelihood, probability, and consequences associated with the risk
  • Control: development of options and alternatives that minimize or eliminate the risk
  • Transfer: shifting the risk to another area

Prior to operational use, a mitigation strategy is validated and verified (as operational experience or data may support). Once validated, verified, and accepted, it then becomes an existing element of the system or operation.

Next, the effect of the proposed mitigation measure on the overall risk is assessed.  If necessary, the process is repeated until a measure or combination of measures is found that reduces the risk to an acceptable level.

When risk is determined to be unacceptable, it is necessary to identify and evaluate risk mitigation measures by which the probability of occurrence and/or the severity of the hazard could be reduced. When risk mitigation strategies cross organizations, risk acceptance and approval from stakeholder organizations is necessary.

Risk mitigation may require a management decision to approve, fund, schedule, and implement one or more risk mitigation strategies. The objective of this phase is to implement appropriate and cost-effective risk mitigation plans to mitigate hazards. Appropriate risk mitigation strategies are developed, documented, selected, and implemented. Hazard tracking is the core of this risk management phase. Each medium and high-risk hazard is tracked until its risk is mitigated to an acceptable level and the effectiveness of the controls mitigating the risk is verified. The hazard record is kept for the life cycle of the system change.

When assessing risk using a group or committee, remember that interactions between safety-group participants with varying experience and knowledge tend to lead to broader, more comprehensive, and more balanced consideration of safety issues than if an individual conducts the assessment. Thus, if possible, group analysis by appropriate subject matter experts, is recommended.

SMS Pro's Meeting Manager is suitable for Safety Committee meetings in disparate locations. Almost universal access to the system is made possible due to Web-based technologies. Minutes can be documented and stored in PDFs.

Utilization of safety risk management increases the level of safety in airport operations, maintenance, and new systems. Through SRM, hazards are assessed, mitigated, documented, tracked, and operational data are continuously monitored to provide feedback on hazards. Understanding the consequences of risk increases the ability to anticipate and control the impacts of internal and/or external events on a program.

Accountability is the foundation of an effective SMS. By accepting the safety risk mitigation strategy, the appropriate management official is certifying acceptance and accountability.

Appendix 2: Other SMS pro modules not discussed in analysis

SMS Induction Manager: SMS auditors will invariably ask: "Does the SMS include a process for ensuring all personnel will attend induction and ongoing safety related training?"

SMS Pro has an SMS Induction Agreement that users acknowledge they have been inducted into the operation's aviation safety management system. By acknowledging all four questions in the "SMS Induction Agreement," users are documented as to have been formally inducted into the organization's SMS. SMS Pro tracks which users have been inducted and the date of their SMS induction.

Furthermore, by going to the "Manage SMS Inductees" function, managers can see at a glance who has not been inducted or does not agree with the SMS Induction Agreement. Safety Managers can easily arrange training via email messages to identified users that have not yet been inducted.


SMS Policy Reviewer: This module provides a tool to answer the question: "Is there a process to periodically review the SMS documentation to ensure that it remains adequate, effective and suitable?"

SMS Policy Reviewer emails selected users by role when documents require review.


Hazard Analyzer provides "drill-down" charting functionality. Hazard Analyzer is an analysis tool to help identify safety trends and areas in need of improvement. Drilldown for the Types of Issues, Root Cause, and Process classifications. This can be used to get a better idea of where operational risk areas lie.

The longer an organization tracks and classify issues in SMS Pro, the more the organization can learn in a graphical, easy to understand format.


QuickSort™ is a tool used to quickly sort and track submitted isses. Queries can be dynamic, on-the-fly and include multiple sorting parameters.

Can't find that "Bird Strike" issues submitted many months ago? No problem with QuickSort™ filtering capability. Do you want to sort issues by risk level, then by status within risk level? No problem. QuickSort™ possesses sophisticated sorting and grouping functionality.

***** The End ******

Aviation SMS Products

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

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

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

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Unlimited file storage space for SMS activities and access to ALL SMS Pro modules (> 70 as of Sept 2014).

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