5 Most Important Things to Know Before Buying Aviation SMS Database

SMS Pro Aviation Safety Software Blog 4 Airlines & Airports

5 Most Important Things to Know Before Buying Aviation SMS Database

                                                              Northwest Data Solutions

Posted by Christopher Howell on Dec 6, 2018 10:00:00 AM  

I Don’t Need an Aviation SMS Database!…or Do I?

Many aviation service providers today are researching features and capabilities to acquire databases to address documentation requirements of their aviation safety management system (SMS). Alternatively, these operators are not looking to acquire an SMS database, but to:

  1. learn how to design an SMS database in-house; or
  2. cobble together single point solutions to satisfy SMS regulators.

Why are aviation SMS databases important?

What should an aviation service provider know before running out and buying the cheapest SMS database on the market?

Aviation (SMS) are composed of structured processes. In most cases, aviation SMS enforce, and in other situations, encourage, aviation service providers to manage their SMS according to best practices established by:

The reason SMS databases are so important to aviation service providers is that many SMS documentation requirements need long term data storage and retrieval strategies from many disparate data sources. Let that sink in. You may even wish to re-read that sentence. The important phrase is:

long term data storage and retrieval strategies from many disparate data sources

For readers whose eyes are rolling back in their heads, this simply means that you need to store and retrieve data from many areas of the SMS that have different data elements, such as data from:

  • Safety reporting;
  • Accident investigations;
  • Hazard identification;
  • SMS Training;
  • Risk controls; and
  • Safety communications.

SMS Databases Automate Labor Intensive Tasks

In an SMS, there are many risk management activities that are time sensitive with due dates that cannot slip through the cracks. Otherwise, SMS regulatory auditors will identify your substandard safety performance and issue audit findings. After reacting to repeat audit findings, operators either:

  • end up complying and get proper tools to address substandard performance;
  • modify company’s risk management processes; or
  • lose their certificate (in two to four years based on my experience).

In addition to alerting safety teams and management of “problems in your risk management processes,” SMS databases are use to accurately automate labor-intensive data analysis and monitoring tasks, like

  • generating reports and trending charts;
  • providing and tracking SMS training;
  • detecting trends and automatically alerting management of trends;
  • collecting safety reports from various sources (web, email, third parties);
  • tracking hazard identification processes;
  • risk management processes;
  • safety communications;
  • setting and monitoring key safety performance indicators (KPIs or SPIs).

Based on many years of observations, aviation service providers are not having problems with reacting to events and applying corrective and preventive actions, the problems I see are operators having problems are managing the documentation. As I mentioned earlier, there data management tasks required in an SMS are no joke.

Furthermore, operators know what is most important to their operations (KPIs), their problem arises from:

  • monitoring;
  • measuring; 
  • analyzing; 
  • identifying trends; and
  • documenting results and corrective actions when necessary.

SMS is structured process. Operators need help documenting their risk management processes. As they start working the process and documenting their actions, then they will start being able to demonstrate continuous improvement of the SMS.

Factors Determining Benefits of SMS Database 

To help safety teams in their search for an aviation SMS database, here are a few things to consider before you throw time and energy into implementing aviation SMS software or building your own. Not every aviation service provider needs an SMS database.

I’ll be the first to tell you that some operators should not purchase an SMS database. Their safety culture and management commitment will not support long term data management initiatives.

There are several considerations that determine whether an SMS database will add any value to your company, such as:

  • Top management commitment;
  • Safety budget
  • Organization’s size and complexity;
  • Existing technological capabilities;
  • Employee technological maturity;
  • Maturity of SMS implementation;
  • Short term strategic business initiatives;
  • Effectiveness of regulatory oversight; and
  • Safety culture.

What Is an Aviation SMS Database?

Northwest Data Solutions

As of 2019, the Australians and Canadians are still the ones who most fully embrace the ICAO 2006 SMS mandate. These requirements are explained in ICAO Document 9859.

The rest of the world can learn from the growing pains suffered by the Canadians and Australians during their SMS implementations. For those of us that have been following SMS from the beginning, we have been able to identify trends in their SMS implementation processes.

Since these two countries paved the “SMS way,” countries following in their footsteps can leapfrog technological hurdles faced earlier by these two countries. “Leapfrogging” is a concept that you may run into during business and economic discussions. The best example that always sticks with me from my college days is the “mobile phone” example.

Third world countries adopted mobile phones without having to bear the huge expense of “hard-line” phones. In short, they leapfrogged over the hard line phones and directly adopted mobile phone technology. This leapfrogging allowed these counties to forebear the horrendous expense of telephone poles and tens of  thousands of miles of telephone wires.

Along the same vein, aviation service providers that are not in the leading technological edge of SMS data management can leapfrog technologies that have proven ineffective in managing SMS documentation requirements, such as spreadsheets and poorly integrated “point solutions.”

If your company has more than 50 employees, you should not consider spreadsheets to store SMS data. You will regret this and the accountable executive will not be pleased with the unnecessary risk. Another rule of thumb based on over a dozen years of observations is:

Do not use spreadsheets in companies with high employee turnover, even for small companies with 15-20 employees.

Point Solutions Next Phase of SMS Data Management Evolution

Point solutions are software products designed to satisfy one major business requirement, such as:

  • Safety reporting system;
  • Auditing system; 
  • Document management system; or
  • Training and qualifications system.

There are companies like Sabre and ETQ that actively search to acquire and market point solutions to provide to the aviation industry. These companies don’t generally develop solutions, but acquire point solutions and add them to their stable of software offerings.

In a few instances, these companies will integrate multiple point solutions into a single platform or product and relabel the new “integrated solution” under their brand. You may know this as “white labeling.” A white label product is produced by one company and then rebranded by another company to make it appear as if they made it. 

Point solutions may satisfy a particular business need, but often are not easily configurable to meet unique business needs. This becomes more true with white label SMS solutions because the company marketing the SMS solution doesn’t have the technological ability to easily customize the solution.

Another disadvantage of point solutions is that technical and customer support are not as responsive because support tickets are routed from the solutions provider back to the original software developers, and then returns through the same process. This “support ticket routing game” becomes obvious when tech support takes more than a couple hours to contact you with a solution to your problem. If technical support and flexible configuration capabilities are important to your company’s long term data management strategy, point solutions should not be considered.

The advantage of point solutions is that they are cheaper than fully integrated databases that have all the features required in a complete SMS database. Most operators don’t need all features in the beginning of their SMS implementations, so a point solution scratches the immediate itch.

Point solutions are a short-game strategy. There are valid business cases for adopting point solutions, but if you are a small company with fewer than 60 employees, these point solutions will come back and haunt you in five to six years into your SMS implementation. Larger operators may have available IT resources to integrate multiple point solutions, but if you are a smaller operator, or your IT support staff are overworked, then you should avoid point solutions in your SMS implementation.

Integrated Point Solutions Comprised of Multiple Databases

Point solutions usually have at least one database for each system; therefore, if your company has six point solutions to manage all SMS documentation requirements, then you will potentially have at least six distinct databases to store data. This is not an efficient data management strategy for aviation SMS.

Unfortunately, this complexity is hidden from clients who buy an integrated solution comprised of multiple point solutions. To the customer, they are buying “Brand X SMS.” They think they are buying “one product” when in reality, they may be buying 6 or 8 different “white label” products wrapped in a cute package with fancy marketing speak. Unsuspecting customers may not know what is under the covers until years later as they wonder why it is so hard to have a user-friendly configurable system.

The quickest way to spot these “white-label” integrated SMS solutions is look at their public facing documentation. How much detail do they show? If they don’t show much detail about their SMS solutions, chances are that this will be a white-label SMS package that may have been created for another industry, like:

  • Chemical;
  • Energy (petroleum);
  • Automotive, etc.

Best SMS Database is Designed For Specifically for SMS

The best solution with the lowest long-term maintenance cost is the single, enterprise-capable SMS database that was designed specifically to address aviation SMS documentation and performance monitoring requirements. An easy way to tell if an SMS database was designed specifically for the aviation industry is to look at the industry types the company markets to. It becomes highly unlikely the SMS database was built for aviation SMS when the SMS database provider is also selling to the other industries, like:

  • Automotive;
  • Chemical; 
  • Food;
  • Construction; and
  • Oil and gas.

Is it important that your SMS database provider sells to other industries? Are you concerned about the depth of SMS database provider’s subject matter expertise? These are both valid points to consider.

Retooling Systems In-House to Manage SMS Data Needs

Similar to the white-label software providers, some operators have been re-tooling existing database solutions, such as SharePoint and Spiceworks to serve as their SMS database. We have seen some ingenious hacks using “help desk support software” that was designed to support IT teams. The business argument was that the price was right.

This is again a short-game strategy.

As we have seen in Australia and Canada, in the early stages of the SMS implementation, safety mangers don’t know what data they are going to collect. What are they going to do with the data once they get it. These safety managers were addressing one implementation point at a time, without the experience of what the end game looks like. It was only years later, usually six to eight years, that accountable executives and safety teams realize that they had an unrealistic picture of the final product – and by final product, I’m referring the fully implemented SMS.

Based on what they knew at the time, safety managers adopted available tools in house, which were the spreadsheets, point solutions or retooled software solutions hacked together to satisfy the “immediate need” to demonstrate “something.”

Major shortcomings these operators finally realize after about three-to-five years is that they lack:

  • automated notifications of schedule slippages;
  • real-time SMS performance monitoring;
  • KPI management and KPI monitoring;
  • industry-accept hazard identification and risk control monitoring;
  • SMS-specific charting tools to analyze data and spot trends; and
  • automated email notifications from major activities (feedback and task assignment notifications).

As you can see, point solutions are great and scratch an immediate itch, but lack long term sustainability. For a long term SMS data management strategy, don’t implement your SMS using point solutions.

Benefits of an SMS Database During SMS Implementation

We have worked with hundreds of aviation service providers in many countries since 2007 as they implemented SMS, or as they re-implemented failed systems. We provide an SMS database built following ICAO’s four components. In short, we have seen hundreds of SMS implementations and we are also SMS data management experts. We are not white-label SMS resellers, but genuine aviation SMS database architects and developers.

We have worked with many different types of operations, which is very cool for us. As you may know, it is not just airlines and airports that are required to implement formal SMS. The list also includes, 

  • Aviation maintenance;
  • Air traffic control;
  • Flight Schools;
  • Aviation equipment manufacturers;
  • Ground handling companies.

In the early days after ICAO mandated formal SMS adoption, the Canadians and Australians resorted to tools they knew best and had in-house, including:

  • MS Word,
  • MS Excel, 
  • MS Access, and maybe
  • SharePoint.

After several years of implementing their SMS, many of these companies realized that the data management requirements of fully implemented SMS required professionally designed SMS databases. To be perfectly candid, they didn’t realize this solely on their own, but from SMS auditors. This became even more evident for companies with more than 100 employees, regardless of whether they were:

  • Airlines;
  • Airports; or
  • Aviation maintenance organizations.

For the major operators with more than 1,000 employees, these companies have IT support that could either develop their own system or integrate multiple point solutions to address regulatory requirements.

These smaller to mid-sized companies also tried in-house solutions and point solutions. Finally, they had come to realize that it is easier, more cost effective and less risky to simply acquire an SMS database from a company that focuses on such systems. After all, you don’t buy an aircraft from an auto manufacturer. Subject matter expertise runs more deeply in a company that dedicates its energies to satisfying SMS data management requirements.

From my experience, aviation service providers in the Middle East and Europe didn’t suffer as long as the Canadians in their SMS implementations. This may be due to better training or a better understanding of the data management requirements of these fully developed aviation SMS. If you are an operator in the Middle East, your biggest challenge will be to acquire top management commitment and support to acquire tools to demonstrate SMS compliance. Each geographic region has their own challenges. Luckily, I’ve been blessed by being exposed to most regions around the world.

So what does an aviation SMS database offer before, during and after an SMS implementation process?

  • Centralized data storage;
  • SMS gap analysis tools to evaluate existing tools and processes;
  • SMS implementation management;
  • Secure access by all members of the aviation organization based on role;
  • Improved data security;
  • Improved organizational communication; 
  • Enhanced accountability;
  • Less risk to the organization; and
  • Real-time SMS performance monitoring.

Best Practices Achievable Using SMS Databases

Professionally designed aviation SMS databases can also ensure that operators are following data management best practices. When multiple managers have access to the same data, there is less chance to ignore reported hazards and safety concerns. There is increased accountability and transparency across the organization’s SMS.

In addition to best practices, employees become more involved in the SMS when the SMS database is user-friendly and the workflows are logical. There is nothing more of a buzz-kill than a crappy SMS database that doesn’t work or is not user friendly.

A poorly designed SMS database is a threat to your safety culture. I learned long ago that an airline will suffer a long time before ditching substandard software. It is expensive to change. You have to consider

  • legacy data to import into the new system;
  • training employees on the new system; and
  • reviewing SMS manual to align risk management processes to new software.

The point is that it is less expensive to choose wisely in the first place. Otherwise your company’s safety culture will suffer for many years to come, unless you get out of the bad relationship within the first year or two.

SMS Databases Encourage Repeatable Risk Management Processes

SMS is a structured process. Perhaps the single most important advantage of an SMS database is that it facilitates repeatable risk management processes. Business rules can be enforced to ensure designed risk management procedures are followed according to your SMS manual. This becomes increasingly important for larger companies that are “process driven” or companies with high staff turnover.

The SMS database also reduces risk for the accountable executive. They can be assured the SMS is performing in all areas of the organization and alert management when substandard safety performance is detected. If your company needs repeatable risk management processes, and you don’t have time to develop your own, the quick fix is to acquire an SMS database.

Not having defined risk management processes becomes especially more important when the operator still doesn’t have a good SMS manual. SMS manuals are a major concern for new SMS implementations as safety managers work diligently to organize:

  • Safety policies;
  • Duties and responsibilities of key safety personnel;
  • Organizational chart;
  • Safety reporting processes;
  • Risk management processes;
  • Auditing and safety assurance;
  • Hazard analysis (safety risk analysis); 
  • Safety training;
  • and so on…

Some SMS database solutions have an SMS manual template to get new operators started on the right track and to reduce frustrations. SMS manual templates allow safety managers to get a huge jump start on their SMS implementation. This becomes increasingly important when safety managers come to an organization with poorly documented risk management processes. 

Safety managers without documented risk management processes are grasping for some sort of help, and these SMS manual templates are wonderful because they have well-defined, industry accepted best practices already incorporated in the SMS manual templates.

What to Expect from Aviation SMS Software?

When we talk about an aviation SMS database, it is important to understand that the database is simply half of the solution. The user interface is the other half. Most safety professionals think that the SMS database and the user-interface are the same. However, if the safety manager has an IT background, the safety manager will realize the database is only used to store organized data in logical tables, like a spreadsheet.

To be absolutely correct, SMS software, in most cases, is a Web application. This is a detail that may not excite you, but if you are thinking about buying an SMS database, you will also be getting the front-end where the user interacts with the database using pretty workflows and business logic that prompts you to do something. The Web application may also enforce data restraints, such as required fields, or send email notifications when you assign a task to another user.

To us in the IT world, what I described is a Web application, but you may recognize it as a “software program.” There is a database in the back end that stores data. You can think of the database as having hundreds of related data tables. Software (the Web application) accesses this data, either retrieving or storing the data according to security and functional requirements of the software.

An aviation SMS software program offers little value unless the user interface is:

  • Full-featured;
  • Intuitive;
  • User-friendly;
  • Flexible (or configurable); and
  • Easily adaptable when technologies change (such as from desktop to mobile).

When you shop for your aviation SMS database, consider your goals and needs. For example, if you are already using SharePoint, you may not need a robust version-controlled document management system integrated within your safety portal.

At the bare minimum, your aviation safety database should consist of the following:

  • Web-based hazard reporting forms;
  • Automated email notification of events;
  • Risk management workflow to assess, classify and perform investigations;
  • Corrective/Preventive Action tracking;
  • KPI management and monitoring;
  • Data analysis and export features to MS Excel; and
  • User-friendly charting and graphing tools.

Again, these are the bare minimum features the cheapest aviation SMS database software should offer. The more sophisticated systems will have:

  • Offline features for safety reporting and auditing;
  • Proactive hazard analysis (safety risk analysis);
  • Hazard and risk registers;
  • Message boards with “read files”;
  • Auditing suites for scheduling and managing audits;
  • Training and qualification management; 
  • SMS training delivery and tracking of initial and recurrent SMS training; and
  • SMS performance monitoring dashboards.

To sum this up, your SMS database scratches the itch affecting all aviation safety managers:

“how and where do I store all my SMS documentation?”

SMS Performance Monitoring Is Required

Your accountable executive has major responsibilities to the SMS. For starters, they need to make sure their SMS is properly implemented and working as designed across the entire organization. They also need to regularly review safety performance. Whenever problems are identified, either by the safety team or by external auditors, they are responsible for fixing the substandard safety performance.

In order to assure the accountable executive that the SMS is performing, you will need tools to monitor SMS performance. SMS performance monitoring dashboards and email notifications (or alerts) afford accountable executives some assurance that the SMS is performing as expected. The alternative is the accountable executive may as well be on another planet, unaware of what will happen to him should a major event occur.

The unaware accountable executive will be the one who is not committed to the SMS and will not support the SMS budget for the SMS database. The unaware accountable executive deserves a “spreadsheet SMS” because they are telling the safety team that all he is concerned with is a “paper SMS.” He just wants to check the box.

I’ll keep repeating that a “paper SMS” is not always a bad thing. There are business cases that support “checking the box.” However, if your company really is sincere about benefiting from SMS risk management processes, then the accountable executive needs to budget for an SMS database to effectively monitor SMS performance and be able to respond to substandard performance in a timely manner.

What Options Do I Have with Aviation SMS Databases

When it comes to aviation SMS software solutions, the options are virtually endless and are growing daily. Technology constantly changes, so even the existing aviation SMS databases are changing rapidly.

Most of the popular aviation SMS solutions are subscription based and some have the option of hosting on your server. With a subscription to aviation SMS database software, the subscription payments are typically monthly or annually. Costs vary by the number of employees or number of aircraft. Operators that focus pricing on the number of aircraft are commonly flight operations specific and their solutions are not as flexible as those that don’t focus on aircraft.

There are also some free aviation SMS solutions on the market. Free aviation SMS software may be great for starting your SMS program, but don’t expect to have all the features of a paid subscription. Smaller operators and many governmental agencies without an aviation SMS budget typically sign up for the free aviation SMS subscriptions.

Are Aviation SMS Databases Right for Our Company?

If your company has more than 20 employees, you should invest in an aviation SMS software program to save yourself pain and misery caused by managing the aviation SMS requirements.

Experience has shown that aviation service providers will suffer about eight to ten years of pain before realizing that they need help managing all the data associated with required aviation SMS documentation.

If you don’t have top management support, then an aviation SMS database may not be your answer. Lack of top management support is the number one reason why aviation SMS fail.

A good rule of thumb is; if your company has 40 or more employees, you will definitely need software tools to manage your data. Otherwise, expect to have audit findings and know that you will suffer repeatedly whenever auditors come calling.

What Benefits Can We Expect with Aviation SMS Database

We will review the benefits described above:

  • Centralized data storage;
  • Secure access by all members of the aviation organization;
  • Improved data security;
  • Improved organizational communication;
  • Enhanced safety culture;
  • Repeatable risk management processes;
  • Enhanced accountability; and
  • Less risk to accountable executive.

Which Aviation SMS Databases Are Worth Considering?

There are probably three or four aviation SMS software providers that have comparable products. If you Google “aviation SMS software,” you will find the top companies on the first page. Aviation SMS database programs are not that expensive, with some of them as low as $100 per month for smaller operators.

Before you purchase an aviation SMS software solutions, make sure the database will be able to grow with your needs. Also, research how the SMS database will help solve your problems when you are implementing your aviation SMS program.

Did I mention that we provide an SMS database?

If you need an SMS database,

  • we are not white-label; and
  • we have a single, enterprise-grade database; with
  • excellent customer support

 

After watching the videos above, you may have questions. Sign up for a live demo. No pressure.

Published August 2015. Last updated January 2019.

Topics: Aviation SMS Database

Site content provided by Northwest Data Solutions is meant for informational purposes only. Opinions presented here are not provided by any civil aviation authority or standards body

Flight Safety Foundation Calls for International Symposium on Aircraft Monitoring and Communication Systems

Flight Safety Foundation Calls for International Symposium on Aircraft Monitoring and Communication Systems

Source:  Emily McGee

Director of Communications
+1 703 739 6700, ext. 126
mcgee@flightsafety.org

Alexandria VA, April 1, 2014  – In the wake of the Malaysian government’s announcement that flight MH 370 ended in the Indian Ocean and the continuing search, the Flight Safety Foundation today called on the commercial aviation industry and national civil aviation authorities to gather for an international symposium on the current state of technology and need to incorporate practical in-flight aircraft monitoring and communications systems to enhance location tracking.

“We will hopefully know soon what happened on this tragic flight,” said David McMillan, Chairman of the FSF Board of Governors.  “We do know, however, that emerging technology exists to provide much more real-time data about aircraft operations and engine performance. That data can help us unlock mysteries, leading to timely safety improvements and more focused search and rescue missions, while avoiding some of the pain and anguish felt by victims’ loved ones in the wake of a tragedy.”

“Satellite communications, navigation, and surveillance systems also represent efficient ways of tracking aircraft, especially over water,” said Kenneth Hylander, FSF’s acting president and CEO.  “Given existing technology, we simply should not be losing contact with aircraft for unknown reasons. Out of respect for the families, it’s also time for the media speculation to stop, and for a knowledgeable, responsible, professional dialogue to begin to examine technological options for practical tracking of aircraft.”

The Foundation, which has long been a leader in calling for greater use of data for risk mitigation, emphasized today that the combination of data gathering, analytics, and sharing would improve safety and operational efficiency.  The migration toward exploiting “smart machines” that supply real-time, actionable information not only helps in determining what went wrong in the wake of an accident, but assists operators in determining the status of aircraft, engines and sub-systems in order to predict and prevent failures, ultimately further advancing the industry’s already outstanding safety record.

Noting that it took 23 months to recover the flight data recorders in Air France 447 over the Atlantic, Hylander added:  “Given today’s sensor and satellite technologies, we shouldn’t have to wait so long to find out where, what, and why things went wrong.”

Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to be the leading voice of safety for the global aerospace community.

 

Flight Safety Foundation

Emily McGee

Director of Communications
+1 703 739 6700, ext. 126
mcgee@flightsafety.org

Paramount Signs Flight Dispatch Contract With AAR Airlift Group

Paramount Signs Flight Dispatch Contract With AAR Airlift Group

Contact: Nicole Buzynski Nicole.buzymski@paramountarg.com +1-540-737-4600

Paramount to provide dispatch and flight support for AAR Airlift’s global fleet.

Fredericksburg, Virginia – March 5, 2014 –Paramount Global Ferry & Flight Support, a division of Paramount Aviation Resources Group , a global provider of flight crew personnel and aircraft ferry and flight support services, has signed a contract with AAR Airlift Group to provide dispatch and flight support services to AAR’s fleet.

“We are excited to support AAR. We recognize that AAR has a global operation with a diverse fleet of aircraft that provide essential support to both civilian and military operations. Reliability is critical. Our global dispatch and flight services are a perfect match to provide the services to ensure that AAR Airlift’s crews have the information and support needed to safely complete each flight,” said Rick Wolfer, Paramount Global Ferry and Flight Support Division President.

“We are very pleased with the excellent service Paramount has provided AAR and look forward to their continued support for our future missions, ” said Jeffrey Wehrenberg, Chief Operating Officer, AAR Airlift Group. “AAR provides critical airlift support to government and military operations and has an impeccable safety record. We are confident that Paramount’s expertise and support will help us to maintain that record.”

Paramount Global Ferry and Flight Support has provided aircraft ferry and flight support services to aircraft operators throughout the world since 2008. In that time, Paramount has safely moved and supported hundreds of aircraft, including ATR, Airbus, Beechcraft, Boeing, Bombardier, Dassault Aviation, Dornier, EADS CASA, Fokker, and many other types of aircraft to destinations throughout the world.

“Safety is Paramount in aviation. It’s no coincidence we integrated the word Paramount into our corporate name because it is how we operate,” said Michael W. Johnson, Paramount Aviation Resources Group President and CEO. “Our team works closely with each customer to ensure the crews have the information and support they need to safely and efficiently complete every flight.”

Paramount provides dispatch and flight support and aircraft ferry services throughout the world for any aircraft type. With an in-house global flight dispatch center, Paramount maintains direct contact with crews continuously regardless of their location.

About Paramount Global Ferry and Flight Support

Paramount Global Ferry and Flight Support is a division of Paramount Aviation Resources Group. Founded in 2007, Paramount Aviation Resources Group is quickly becoming the most-trusted provider of leased flight crew personnel and aircraft ferry services in the world. With a commitment to aviation safety, reducing operating costs, and providing impeccable service, Paramount Aviation Resources Group is helping air operators achieve long-term viability. Paramount Aviation Resources Group was formed by airline professionals with thousands of flight hours and decades of experience as line pilots, instructors, and managers at international Part 121 air carriers. Visit Paramount Aviation Resources Group on the web at www.paramountarg.com

 

About AAR Airlift Group

AAR Airlift Group provides expeditionary airlift services in support of contingency operations worldwide. The Company is based in Melbourne, FL, and operates a fleet of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft transporting personnel, supplies, and mail for the U.S. Department of Defense in Afghanistan and the Western Pacific. Visit AAR Airlift Group on the web at www.aarcorp.com/gov/airlift

 

NBAA Safety Committee Identifies Top Safety Focus Areas for 2014

NBAA Press Release

Washington, DC, March 5, 2014

For the second consecutive year, the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA’s) Safety Committee has published a list of recommended safety priorities for the business aviation industry. The list is intended to promote safety-focused discussion and advocacy among NBAA Members and the business aviation industry.

The list of NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas for 2014 is (in no particular order):

  • Professionalism
  • Positive Safety Culture
  • Single-Pilot Safety
  • Fitness for Duty
  • Airport Safety
  • Airmanship Skills
  • Distraction Management
  • Public Policy
  • Talent Pipeline
  • Technology Management

The committee developed the list with input from many of NBAA’s other standing committees, as well as from the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Flight Safety Foundation’s Business Advisory Committee and regional business aviation groups.

The list is first intended to serve as a conversation starter. “We want to start having discussions in our various spheres of influence on what each of these topics means on a personal basis,” said NBAA Safety Committee Chairman Eric Barfield. “But perhaps more importantly, we want to provoke a meaningful discussion among colleagues within the flight department and with the corporate office. It’s a conversation that goes both up and down the chain of command.”

The list also will serve to guide the Safety Committee’s work in support of safety advocacy for the year to come, providing a useful framework for developing future NBAA resources and education efforts in the coming months.

“Sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to business aviation safety,” Barfield said. “We’re trying to educate them on those areas, as well as point out tools to help them continuously improve their safety processes and outcomes.”

First published in 2013 under the moniker “Top 10 Safety Focus Areas,” this year’s list was renamed to recognize the diversity within business aviation and give equal weight to all items listed. “This is no longer a prioritized list of concerns. Everybody has different priorities,” said Barfield. “Instead, these are key areas where the committee believes more discussion is warranted.”

The 2014 topics themselves are largely unchanged from 2013. Where changes to the list were introduced, they typically served to enhance or expand on topics and focus area descriptions from the previous year.

For example, “fatigue” is now aligned under a larger “fitness for duty” umbrella along with aeromedical issues and the growing concern with improper use of over-the-counter medications. ”Distraction management” is a new topic encompassing not only task saturation and situational awareness, but also distractions created by pressures stemming from the home and office. “Airmanship skills” and “airport safety” remain on the list, but have been expanded in scope.

Review NBAA’s Top Safety Focus Areas.
Learn more about the NBAA Safety Committee.

Civil Aviation Authority Safety Review for Offshore Rotor Operations

In September 2013, following a number of incidents involving offshore helicopter operations, the UK CAA, in conjunction with EASA and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority, conducted a safety review. The review examined the risks and hazards of operating in the North Sea and considered how these could be managed more effectively.

This comprehensive analysis of North Sea helicopter operations and safety performance proposes a series of actions and makes a number of important recommendations for the industry. The focus is now on managing the changes arising from the report in a considered and systematic way.

Although focused on oil and gas operations in the North Sea, the Review has indirect relevance for offshore Search and Rescue (SAR) too and will arguably be of interest to other offshore oil and gas locations around the world.

The Review contains 32 Actions which the UK CAA have committed to but more widely 29 Recommendations. Of these, 13 are to EASA, 12 to the Helicopter Industry (AOC Holders, MROs, ATOs and manufacturers), 3 to the oil and gas industry and one collectively to all three of these

Read the full report

ACSF and ARGUS International Collaborate to Offer Two Results with One Combined Audit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Bryan Burns
President
888-723-3135
bburns@acsf.aero

ACSF and ARGUS International Collaborate to Offer Two Results with One Combined Audit 

Alexandria, VA,  March 4, 2014 — The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) and ARGUS International, Inc. have been working together to offer the charter and fractional ownership industry a single audit combining both the ACSF Industry Audit Standard (IAS) and the ARGUS Platinum Standard. Both the ACSF and ARGUS are pleased to announce they have reached an agreement in principle.

In the near future, ARGUS will offer an Industry Audit Standard (IAS) module as an add-on to its proprietary Platinum Audit Standard. The IAS module will contain operational requirements that have been extracted from best practices used by the FAR Part 121 community and have applicability to the Parts 135 and 91K marketplace. Operators that successfully complete the audit performed against the Platinum standard, including the IAS module, will receive the ARGUS Platinum rating and be added to the ACSF registry.

Both ACSF and ARGUS believe this will be a win-win relationship for the Charter and Fractional operators as they work together to reduce operational risk and redundant workload associated with multiple audits. The two standards will mesh well together as the ARGUS Platinum standard has become the most recognized symbol of an operator’s overall quality to charter buyers around the world, and the IAS is focused on operational and maintenance initiatives that are applied and refined in an effort to assist the commercial business aviation marketplace in achieving safety metrics found in the U.S. Air Carrier marketplace.

ACSF Chairman Jeff Baum said, “The Air Charter Safety Foundation IAS recognized that the scheduled airline community, in part through the use of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and FAR Part 121, has demonstrated the best safety record in the aviation industry. ACSF Accreditation recognizes a Part 135 operator or Fractional Manager that is utilizing many policies and procedures common to their Part 121 counterparts to further enhance their overall Safety Management System.”

“It is through a cooperative effort and shared mission of safety, that the Air Charter Safety Foundation and ARGUS have been able to bring this program to the marketplace through a single on-site audit event, thereby accomplishing an objective core to the mission statement of the ACSF,” noted Baum.

“ARGUS Platinum has for years now, represented the most sought after rating by charter consumers around the world,” said Joe Moeggenberg, President and CEO of ARGUS. “Yet we recognize that some operators require or desire compliance with other standards, yet dread the thought of the time and money associated with multiple audit events. ARGUS is very pleased to cooperate with the ACSF on their Industry Audit Standard (IAS) initiative, and happy to once again uniquely offer the marketplace the ability to perform one audit event with an outcome pertinent to both Platinum and ACSF requirements.”

“This will represent a significant decrease in both time and cost for each participating charter company, without any compromise to either standard or actual audit,” added Moeggenberg.

FAA Issues EMS Rule, Includes Additional Helicopter Operations

Source: Rotor News, Helicopter Association International (HAI) Feb 21 2014

 

FAA Issues EMS Rule, Includes Additional Helicopter Operations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finalized a rule requiring stronger safety measures for helicopter operators, including air ambulances. Changes include equipment, training and operational requirements, and all HAI members are strongly encouraged to review the rule.

The rule is primarily directed toward air ambulance operations, but also addresses commercial helicopter and general aviation helicopter operations, implementing new operational procedures and additional equipment requirements. Additionally, the rule revises requirements for equipment, pilot testing, and alternative airports as well as increasing weather minimums for all general aviation helicopter operations under Part 91 in Class G airspace.

For helicopter air ambulances, the rule requires operations with medical personnel on board to be conducted under Part 135 operating rules and introduces new weather minimums and visibility requirements for Part 135 operations. It mandates flight planning, preflight risk analyses, safety briefings for medical personnel, and the establishment of operations control centers (OCC) for certain operators to help with risk management and flight monitoring. The rule also includes provisions to encourage instrument flight rules (IFR) operations. It requires helicopter air ambulances to be equipped with both helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems. In addition, helicopter air ambulance pilots will be required to hold instrument ratings.

For all helicopters operated under Part 135, these rules require that operators carry more survival equipment for operations over water. Alternate airports named in flight plans must have higher weather minimums than are currently required. These helicopters must be equipped with radio altimeters and pilots must be able to demonstrate that they can maneuver the aircraft during an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) to get out of those conditions safely. As mentioned above, the rule assigns new weather minimums to part 91 helicopter operations in Class G airspace.

The following represents a summary of affected entities:

Part 135 All Rotorcraft Operators:
Requires each rotorcraft to be equipped with a radio altimeter ( Section 135.160)
Adds Section 135.168 equipment requirements for rotorcraft operated over water. Helicopter operations conducted over water will be required to carry additional safety equipment to assist passengers and crew in the event an accident occurs over water.

Revised alternate airport weather minimums for rotorcraft in Section 135.221. This rule improves the likelihood of being able to land at the alternate airport if weather conditions in the area deteriorate while the helicopter is en route.

Revises Section 135.293 to require pilot testing of rotorcraft handling in flat-light, whiteout, and brownout conditions and demonstration of competency in recovery from an IIMC.

Part 135 Helicopter Air Ambulance:
Requires helicopter air ambulance flights with medical personnel on board to be conducted under Part 135 (Section 135.1, 135.601).

Requires certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances to establish operations control centers (OCC) (Section 135.619) and requires drug and alcohol testing for operations control specialists (Section 120.105 and 120.215).

Requires helicopter air ambulances to be equipped with HTAWS (Section 135.605).

Requires helicopter air ambulances to be equipped with a flight data monitoring system (Section 135.607).

Requires each helicopter air ambulance operator to establish and document, in its operations manual, an FAA-approved preflight risk analysis (Section 135.617).

Requires pilots to identify and document the highest obstacle along the planned route (Section 135.615).

Requires safety briefings or training for helicopter air ambulance medical personnel (Section 135.621).

Establishes visual flight rules (VFR) weather minimums for helicopter air ambulance operations (Section 135.609).

Permits instrument flight rules (IFR) operations at airports without weather reporting (Section 135.611).

Establishes procedures for transitioning between IFR and VFR on approach to, and departure from, heliports or landing areas (Section 135.613).

Requires pilots in commend to hold an instrument rating (Section 135.603).

The rule is primarily directed toward air ambulance operations, but also addresses commercial helicopter and general aviation helicopter operations, implementing new operational procedures and additional equipment requirements. Additionally, the rule revises requirements for equipment, pilot testing, and alternative airports as well as increasing weather minimums for all general aviation helicopter operations under Part 91 in Class G airspace.

For helicopter air ambulances, the rule requires operations with medical personnel on board to be conducted under Part 135 operating rules and introduces new weather minimums and visibility requirements for Part 135 operations. It mandates flight planning, preflight risk analyses, safety briefings for medical personnel, and the establishment of operations control centers (OCC) for certain operators to help with risk management and flight monitoring. The rule also includes provisions to encourage instrument flight rules (IFR) operations. It requires helicopter air ambulances to be equipped with both helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems. In addition, helicopter air ambulance pilots will be required to hold instrument ratings.

For all helicopters operated under Part 135, these rules require that operators carry more survival equipment for operations over water. Alternate airports named in flight plans must have higher weather minimums than are currently required. These helicopters must be equipped with radio altimeters and pilots must be able to demonstrate that they can maneuver the aircraft during an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) to get out of those conditions safely. As mentioned above, the rule assigns new weather minimums to part 91 helicopter operations in Class G airspace.

The following represents a summary of affected entities:

  • Part 135 All Rotorcraft Operators:
    Requires each rotorcraft to be equipped with a radio altimeter ( Section 135.160)
    Adds Section 135.168 equipment requirements for rotorcraft operated over water. Helicopter operations conducted over water will be required to carry additional safety equipment to assist passengers and crew in the event an accident occurs over water.
  • Revised alternate airport weather minimums for rotorcraft in Section 135.221. This rule improves the likelihood of being able to land at the alternate airport if weather conditions in the area deteriorate while the helicopter is en route.
  • Revises Section 135.293 to require pilot testing of rotorcraft handling in flat-light, whiteout, and brownout conditions and demonstration of competency in recovery from an IIMC.
  • Part 135 Helicopter Air Ambulance:
    Requires helicopter air ambulance flights with medical personnel on board to be conducted under Part 135 (Section 135.1, 135.601).
  • Requires certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances to establish operations control centers (OCC) (Section 135.619) and requires drug and alcohol testing for operations control specialists (Section 120.105 and 120.215).
  • Requires helicopter air ambulances to be equipped with HTAWS (Section 135.605).
  • Requires helicopter air ambulances to be equipped with a flight data monitoring system (Section 135.607).
  • Requires each helicopter air ambulance operator to establish and document, in its operations manual, an FAA-approved preflight risk analysis (Section 135.617).
  • Requires pilots to identify and document the highest obstacle along the planned route (Section 135.615).
  • Requires safety briefings or training for helicopter air ambulance medical personnel (Section 135.621).
  • Establishes visual flight rules (VFR) weather minimums for helicopter air ambulance operations (Section 135.609).
  • Permits instrument flight rules (IFR) operations at airports without weather reporting (Section 135.611).
  • Establishes procedures for transitioning between IFR and VFR on approach to, and departure from, heliports or landing areas (Section 135.613).
  • Requires pilots in commend to hold an instrument rating (Section 135.603).

JET EDGE INTERNATIONAL JOINS ACSF ASAP PROGRAM

JET EDGE INTERNATIONAL JOINS ACSF ASAP PROGRAM 

Alexandria, VA,  December 23, 2013 — The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) is pleased to announce that Jet Edge International, based in Scottsdale, Arizona has become the latest on-demand air charter operator to participate in the ACSF Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP). They join six other charter operators that currently participate in the program.

“We’re extremely pleased that Jet Edge has joined the ASAP program,” said ACSF Chairman Jeff Baum. “This commitment will allow them to make a positive contribution in risk reduction, and join others in leading the way to improving the overall safety culture of the air charter industry.”

“I would like to personally thank the FAA Scottsdale Flight Standards District Office, AFS 280, and the ACSF for their teamwork and support. The partnership between Jet Edge and the ACSF facilitated the opening of the Western Pacific Region to the first charter operator ASAP Program” said Jet Edge Director of Safety Ben Walsh.  “I believe this program will provide Jet Edge and others with critical safety feedback that would have otherwise gone unreported. Most importantly, it will enhance the safety of our stakeholders, including passengers and crews, by creating a more robust safety management system.”

“Joining this important program affirms our commitment to continuously enhance our company safety culture and the quality of our operation,” said Jet Edge International President Bill Papariella. “This is a win-win scenario for our employees, customers and the charter industry.”

ASAP is a reporting program that allows employees of participating air carriers and repair station certificate holders to identify and report safety issues to management and to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for resolution, without fear that the FAA will use reports accepted under the program to take legal enforcement action against them, or that companies will use such information to take disciplinary action.

The goal of the ACSF ASAP program is to expand to other FAA regions, and to encourage charter operators that lack the resources to establish their own ASAP program to participate and benefit from this valuable safety tool.

#      #       #

“The vision of the ACSF is to enable on-demand charter providers and fractional program managers to achieve the highest levels of safety in the aviation industry. This goal will be achieved through:

  • Promotion of risk management programs,
  • The adoption of one common industry audit standard,
  • Dissemination of safety information and,
  • Creation of additional programs that advance the goals of the foundation.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

Bryan Burns
President
888-723-3135
bburns@acsf.aero

Sextant Readings Presentation on SlideShare has been viewed over 1,750 times

The Sextant Readings presentation – 8 Steps to an Efficient SMS – has been viewed over 1750 times on SlideShare.

Positioning the “8 steps to an efficient SMS” is intended to clarify some of the mis-information about Safety Management that is rife on the internet.  There is a lot of hype about SMS – usually focused on the particular strengths of a vendor’s offering.

However we view Safety Management in the context that safety is a direct result of  “A management system based on professionalism and safety principles” of an organization.  There are many ‘pieces’ of management system support in the offerings from so-called Safety Professionals.

At Sextant Readings we believe that supporting the management of an organization based on the principles of professionalism and safety is our business.  You can see the presentation here:


Good new book on the dangers of bureaucratization of your SMS. Reviewed by Rick Darby representing Flight Safety Foundation and Aerosafety World

 Proceed With Caution

Is over-specification of procedures a potential safety hazard?

BY RICK DARBY representing Flight Safety Foundation and AeroSafety World

A Never-Ending Story

Trapping Safety into Rules: How Desirable or Avoidable is Proceduralization?

Bieder, Corrine; Bourrier, Mathilde (editors). Farnham, Surrey, England and Burlington, Vermont, U.S: Ashgate, 2013. 300 pp. Figures, tables, references, index.

Trapping Safety into Rules — there is a title as provocative as you are likely to see this year in books aimed at aviation safety professionals.

No one needs a definition of rules. Bieder and Bourrier describe “proceduralization” as “firstly, the aim of defining precise and quantified safety objectives, and secondly, the aim of defining a process, describing and prescribing at the same time how to achieve such objectives.” Unfortunately, “these two aspects are usually not defined by the same entity. Some inconsistencies may even exist between the two types of procedures.”

Questioning the role of rules and proceduralization goes to the heart of commercial aviation, one of the most heavily rule-bound industries. Almost every aspect of the industry is covered by regulations (a subset of rules), standard operating procedures, standards and best practices. Accident investigation reports usually conclude with recommendations for new regulations and procedures.

The remarkable safety record of the industry is due in large part to effective procedures. They are the result of lessons learned from accidents and incidents, as well as research and predictive analysis.

More………….