NBAA Top 10 Safety Focus Areas

The NBAA has released their list of the top ten Safety Focus Areas


2.Safety Culture

3.Airmanship Skills

4.Light Business Airplane (LBA) Safety

5.Talent Pipeline

6.Impact of Technology

7.Public Policy

8.Airport Safety


10.Task Saturation


                               FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bryan Burns


Alexandria, VA,  March 19, 2014 — The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) is pleased to announce the selection of Thomas Miller, Director of Operations and Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs at Gama Charters, Inc. to the ACSF Board of Governors.

Mr. Miller holds undergraduate degrees in both mechanical engineering and air transportation management, and a Juris Doctor degree. He is licensed to practice law in Connecticut, the Federal Court system, and the District of Columbia. Prior to working with Gama, Miller practiced business and aviation law while concurrently working as a Learjet pilot. He has been employed as a pilot by Gama Charters since 1985. He was promoted to chief pilot in 1992, and to director of operations in 1996.

Mr. Miller was instrumental in the ISO 9001-2008, ACSF, FAA SMS pilot program, and the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) registrations for the company. He is both a fixed- and rotor-wing qualified pilot, and has more than 11,000 hours as pilot-in-command in Learjet, Westwind, Citation, Gulfstream, BAC 111 and DC-9 aircraft, and numerous turbine-powered helicopters.

“I am honored to be appointed to the ACSF Board of Governors,” said Miller.  “Gama Charters is proud to be one of the high-quality operators that strive to enhance our level of safety through the accomplishment of the ACSF audit process, the most comprehensive in our industry.”

“Tom’s knowledge, experience and leadership in the aviation industry will help support and sustain the foundation’s ongoing and future safety activities,” said ACSF President Bryan Burns.

#      #       #

“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.”


Annex 19 – The Next Steps in Proactive Safety Management

Annex 19 – The Next Steps in Proactive Safety Management

By Danielle Kelly

Sextant Readings Solutions - SMS ICAO Annex 19For the first time in 30 years, ICAO are set to release a new Annex – Annex 19 – that pulls together current safety management practices and future expectations for facilitating safety risks that exist in our lands and skies.

The Annex looks to promote and enhance the alignment between the state and service providers and operators, which in my opinion should be welcomed and can only be a positive thing. Sharing and learning from each other is good, it’s what we are taught as kids and is something we would do well to remember as adults. ICAO have provided us with Annex after Annex of standards and regulations depicting how things should be done in the industry, with lots of references to safety for operation of aircraft, air traffic services, aerodromes, and airworthiness. This new Annex brings together all of these different provisions to further embed safety oversight and systemic risk sharing, but shouldn’t we be doing this already anyway?

There is a lot of emphasis on the management of safety risks, focusing on what we don’t want to happen, and on the sharing of information. However, how worthwhile the sharing of information actually is depends on what is done with it. ICAO appear to be providing an answer to bridging the gap between simply being aware of other industry incidents and proactively managing and implementing further mitigation strategies to prevent the same thing from occurring on our own watch. But why has it taken a new Annex to be published for us to do this, shouldn’t this be something we should be doing as part of working practice? How do organizations learn and share?

It seems ICAO have produced this Annex to show that it is no longer acceptable just to Prevent, Detect and Respond; we need to be able to learn and share information, particularly as the demand for air travel increases. To that end, ICAO has offered greater support for the next generation of safety management systems. The co-ordination effort being established between State Safety Programs (SSP) and the SMS provides an opportunity to improve the performance of the existing SMS to meet state safety policies and objectives, state safety risk management, assurance and promotion.

Like I said before, we can no longer be seen just to be preventing, detecting and responding to occurrences. Learning isn’t just about reporting, understanding, implementing and then backtracking; it’s much more than that – learning is the sharing of knowledge and information, so let’s get more information about our controls instead of the outcomes.  How about we manage the precursor and build our resilience?

Now, it’s all very well saying this but how do we actually achieve it?

Well, we need to start somewhere…so how about our controls? Do we have confidence in our controls?  If not, why not? And what do we do about it to make sure we are confident in the controls in place?

Yes, States play a role to establish and prescribe a State Safety Program in order for us to achieve an acceptable level of safety. However, it is up to the service providers and operators who fundamentally need to demonstrate and actively manage risk and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies through their own Safety Management Systems.

So, where do we go with Annex 19?

Well, we have to make time to look at what we’ve got; we know an SMS will give us the means to do everything we need to do and to be able do them effectively in terms of manage hazards and associated risks, log incidents and occurrences to be able to report on performance. There will no doubt be policies and procedures with associated workflows that are required to be followed to ensure the investigation is appropriately dealt with.

With Annex 19, we need more than this. We need a platform to not only do all the things we need to do, but also all the things we want to do; such as anticipating and predicting, strengthening our position and giving us confidence in our controls. Because if we’re not doing that…well…in the eyes of Annex 19…are we doing it wrong?

How does your SMS measure up against the new Annex 19 recommendations?

GCAA lead the way – choosing Q-Pulse as the solution

GCAA lead the way – choosing Q-Pulse as the solution

iStock_000002708193LargeThe General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is a federal, autonomous body set up to oversee all aviation-related activities in the United Arab Emirates. Created in 1996, the GCAA provide designated aviation services with observance to safety and security to strengthen the aviation industry within the UAE and its air space.

Regulating over 550 organizations throughout the UAE, the GCAA required an electronic auditing system which would allow them to easily demonstrate traceability of audits and analyses their findings within and across organizations.

By implementing Q-Pulse, developed by Ideagen Gael Ltd, the GCAA moved from their laborious paper-based system to an electronic auditing system, allowing them to holistically analyses the audit findings and issues from their regulated organizations.

In doing this, the GCAA became the first such regulator in the world to use Q-Pulse for their entire internal and external auditing processes.

The Background

The aviation industry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the few growing markets in the world. Founded in 1996, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) regulates Civil Aviation across the UAE, ensuring that safety and security is being met to regulatory standards.

Since its inception the authority has made considerable progress as the aviation industry in the UAE continues to grow, embarking on bold new initiatives to provide a better service for the aviation industry.

Modernization of the air traffic control center program, radar equipment’s and the establishment of new facilities to serve the aviation growth in the UAE are just some of the projects initiated by GCAA. The GCAA have also been busy behind an overhaul of civil aviation services in the UAE, creating the necessary infrastructure required to bring them in line with the rapidly growing market. These include state-of-the-art Air Traffic Control systems; Civil Aviation Regulations and AIP upgrades; Flight Safety Services procedures; internal HR structures and policies; and a host of other activities to ensure safe and efficient services.

The UAE were the first in the Middle East region to introduce Satellite Navigation GPS approach procedures, when it was introduced for Dubai International Airport.

The Challenge

With over 550 organizations – from Aircraft Operators to Air Traffic Control centers – GCAA realized that it was imperative they moved from their dated and laborious paper based auditing system. Previously, evidence and findings had been collated through a series of impractical phone calls and e-mails – meaning traceability was then hard to demonstrate.

The GCAA recognized that they needed a single, clear system to relay their audit findings from their hundreds of regulated clients and organizations, and allow them to analyses those same findings quickly and easily.

By turning to Q-Pulse – developed by Ideagen Gael Ltd – GCAA had found the most comprehensive and flexible software tool that met their auditing needs, allowing them to integrate all their audit schedules and findings electronically in one centralized place.

Ismaeil Mohammed Al Balooshi, Director of the GCAA’s Aviation Safety Department, said: “It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep on top of our auditing. Our previous system was paper based and having used this for several years it was proving extremely complicated when trying to retrieve and access information, such as previous audit findings. A need arose to analyses trends and source potential problems – which ultimately made it more difficult in ensuring aviation safety to industry regulations.

“At the GCAA, we regulate hundreds of organizations across an extensive range of services in the UAE such as Aircraft Operators, International Airports, Dangerous Goods forwarders as well as training, medical and maintenance organizations. So our new system had to show we were actively ensuring safety in all the organizations we regulate.

“What we needed was a system that allowed us to integrate all our auditing schedules, findings and evidence into one easy to use database, allowing all our regulated organizations to submit their evidence centrally. But also one that had the scope to extend beyond our initial auditing requirements into areas such as document control for manual and other such approvals, plus the scope to manage a fully integrated SMS system.

“We found Q-Pulse – and quickly realized it provided the solution to our immediate and future needs.”

The Solution

By implementing Q-Pulse, the GCAA became the first such regulator in the world to adopt a centralized electronic system deployed directly into the organizations they regulate, firmly establishing a robust scalable solution capable of managing audit, document and SMS activities.

The unique and groundbreaking new project allowed the authority to introduce an innovative idea and completely overhaul their previous auditing system.

Through Q-Pulse, the GCAA integrated all of their audit schedules and findings – in areas such as Airworthiness, Flight operations, ANAs, Licensing and Security – into one central database. Instead of working with a traditional paper based and laborious system, all of GCAA’s auditing plans and results can be found through easy-to-use Q-Pulse features yielding significant benefits.

All of the authority’s regulated organizations are now managed within Q-Pulse to track all their audit activity and findings, plus keep a copy of the latest version of their approved manuals. Previous revisions are also automatically archived and can be retrieved on demand. The latest version is always available at the point of audit thus findings can be raised against them, checklist questions or ad hoc findings, all of which can easily be graphically analyzed.

Q-Pulse has allowed the GCAA inspectors to plan and process their audits from creation to final closure, while regulated organizations interact with Q-Pulse to resolve their audit findings. This has had a hugely positive impact on both the GCAA and their regulated organizations, with response times being cut dramatically for issues needing resolved for example.

As with any similar organization managing a large quantity of other organizations, the result is a vastly improved regulator/regulated relationship. Strengthening this bond has resulted in the better control and scheduling of audits, an improved sharing of knowledge across disciplines and an easy, user-friendly tool to analyses the results. In industry terms, the GCAA’s innovative decision to introduce Q-Pulse has resulted in an upsurge in market confidence – and safer skies above the UAE.

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, who took up his role as GCAA’s Director General in 2006, said: “As the first CAA in the world to adopt this approach, the GCAA has taken a truly proactive stance in maintaining and improving safety and security oversight.

“As well as being an innovative project with a truly unique approach, it is extremely encouraging to see technology being applied in such an innovative way. This is within an industry in which it is imperative both to take full advantage of the advances that are occurring around us, and to keep pace with the continuing expansion in the region’s aviation sector. This will assist the GCAA in establishing a strong infrastructure to formulate the basis for their safety and security resolutions and enforcement action. This platform is also used by many of our partners in the UAE civil aviation industry which will allow us to streamline our related processes, and hence allow us to provide better services to our clients.”

Safian Baharome, Quality Assurance at flydubai, revealed their improved relationship with the GCAA has helped boost their Quality Management. Safian said: “We have found the GCAA’s interaction with Q-Pulse as helped us manage our non-conformances better. The CA/PA module has enabled us to track our non-compliances better and provide data for analysis and review while the ‘My Action’ provides a snap shot of any findings that are outstanding. Q-Pulse will also prompt and flag any non-conformances that are still open so that they would be able to be closed in a timely manner. Q-Pulse has enabled us to not only manage our audit findings better, it has provided us with easy data extraction for our CI program.”

Tony Mackenzie, Manager of Operations and Compliance at Etihad Airways, said: “This is an excellent step forward in the UAE and light years ahead of some countries in Europe. Well done.”

The Results

By implementing Q-Pulse as their centralized auditing system, GCAA eradicated their confusing paper based methods and ensured that the gap between the regulator and the regulated – a huge problem experienced across the entire aviation industry – was bridged. As the regulator, GCAA now have complete control of their audit schedules and timelines and can share knowledge across disciplines, something they previously had difficulty in achieving.

By implementing Q-Pulse, the GCAA provided their 50-plus inspectors and over 550 regulated clients with a simple and easily accessible auditing database. Analyzing their audit findings has also been made realistically achievable within an acceptable timescale. Q-Pulse allows GCAA’s auditors to study findings easily and effectively, meaning they can learn and target areas of improvement across region, regulation and industry.

In terms of the regulated, GCAA’s implementation of Q-Pulse has provided them with one place for all their evidence collation – allowing them to prepare for audits and see all their historical findings.

Donald Maciver, Managing Director at Ideagen Gael Ltd, said: “This project is poised to bridge the gap between the regulated and the regulator that has been such a source of frustration within the aviation industry worldwide. Ideagen Gael is an experienced provider of aviation safety solutions, and Q-Pulse is without doubt the solution of choice within the aviation community.”

Ideagen Gael Ltd’s Chief Operating Officer, Ashley Marron, insists the benefit for both the GCAA and their 550 regulated clients is clear. He said: “The GCAA visionary approach of working with their regulated customer base has expanded the interaction of Q-Pulse to over 550 customers via the web. The GCAA have undoubtedly taken advantage of the fact that Q-Pulse is a robust scalable solution ideal at handling this extensive level of data reporting and action management.

“With over 50 inspectors alone within GCAA, the annual number of audits performed and findings raised is enormous and the operational benefits taking place internally by implementing Q-Pulse in terms of process management and scheduling is also significant. Imagine then the benefit of using the powerful Q-Pulse Analysis functionality to analyses trends across all the audits the GCAA perform. Utilizing the Wizards functionality and mandatory fields, a disciplined approach to data entry, the GCAA’s vision of using the data trend analysis proactively can be achieved. I am really excited about the impact and success of the project.”

Within the GCAA, Q-Pulse will also serve to enhance communication between their internal divisions. This will enable the authority to provide an integrated environment offering safety and security while meeting their commitment to provide the highest standards in aviation safety and security.

Abdulla Al Housani, the GCAA’s Audit Development Manager, said: “As the audit development manager, I’m looking forward to the long term benefits that we’ll get from using Q-Pulse. Not only will we get valuable analysis from the performance and areas of development of our audited organizations, but we’ll also be able to improve and develop our Inspector performance and auditing techniques.

“As we are using one system for all GCAA audit programmers we’ll be able to learn across the organization and develop best practice with our Inspectors, plus new Inspectors will also benefit from this system as they’ll be able to use the data generated from previous audits across the GCAA.”

Sextant Readings Solutions partners with Ideagen Gael Ltd to deliver comprehensive quality, risk, and safety management solutions to the America’s aviation industry

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.


Obama taps Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as Transportation Secretary

President Barack Obama has tapped Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx as the next Transportation Secretary.

Should the Senate approve of the nomination, Foxx will replace Ray LaHood, who decided to step down from his position near the end of January.

LaHood decided to stay on until a suitable successor was found and in the time since then has been very vocal about the state of decline American infrastructure has found itself in.

LaHood also took to his FastLane blog to discuss Foxx’s nomination calling him “the right man for the job.” LaHood pointed out pieces of Foxx’s experience that deal with specific infrastructure issues the country is currently facing, citing the Charlotte Streetcar Project, improvements made to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the expanded LYNX light rail system, freight and passenger rail upgrades and redesigned intersections on Interstate 85.

In response to his nomination Foxx said reaching across the aisle will be a priority under his oversight. “We must work together across party lines to enhance this nation’s infrastructure,” he said

Corporate Flight Department

Sextant Readings Solutions iStock_000009033182LargeThe decision to implement an enterprise-wide Safety Management Information System (SMIS) reflects a significant and highly visible commitment of time and capital to a successful safety culture and sets a framework for the collection, analysis and sharing of safety information.

Organizations are expected to define, document and communicate the safety roles, responsibilities and authorities throughout the organization. The SMIS provides a mechanism to capture the roles and responsibilities of the organization’s members for effective routing and assignment of safety-related tasks and activities.

Key safety personnel must be clearly identified in the organization. The SMIS should enable the free flow of hazard and safety event information to these individuals whether fully identifiable, de-identified or anonymous while providing tools for monitoring the effectiveness of safety risk controls.

Ensuring adequate preparedness is contingent on all participants having rapid access to the most current, up-to-date plans and procedures, effective training and documentation and active testing and validation of the Plan and the organization’s ability to implement it.

SMS documentation and records are extensive, reflecting more than just the organization’s SMS Manual and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). All safety-related documentation needs to be configuration/revision controlled. Key recipients (copyholders) must be assured access to the most current versions and the organization must be able to verify receipt and acknowledgement of key documents and removal of obsolete documents. Records control is also a key concern for safety management as well as for compliance. The SMIS should have the capability monitor and control the currency and status of all key documents and records supporting the safety of the operation.

As the saying goes, “the only constant is change”. Today’s dynamic aviation organizations are constantly bombarded with changes that impact their operations, both internally (mission requirements, economic challenges, fleet mix, employee turnover, reorganizations, etc.) and externally (new customers, regulatory requirements, noise restrictions, and procedures, etc.). The SMIS must be flexible enough to accommodate continuous change while providing a consistent structure and functionality that enhances change management rather than obstructing it. This includes the ability to quickly add and remove resources (people) from the system while capturing and reapplying standardized requirements, automatically within the SMIS.

With change comes the opportunity for continuous improvement and continuous improvement demands change. It’s a continuous cycle. Key to successful improvement is the ability to analyze safety performance and identify gaps or weaknesses with improvement potential. Whether identified through audits and evaluations, data analysis, corrective and preventive actions or management reviews, the SMIS must provide the ability to analyze performance, identify opportunities for improvement and enable the successful introduction of changes into the environment.

Safety communication and awareness is about more than displaying banners and slogans in the break room. Real-time access to critical safety information, delivered to all relevant personnel is a minimum requirement for the SMIS. By engaging all involved personnel, expectations and awareness is raised. A SMS Information Management solution  when fully implemented, it (i) collects safety data; (ii) tracks, reports, and accesses risk: (iii) assigns responsibility for corrective action/ preventive action; and (iv) A SMS Information Management solution analysis capability with real-time graphical presentations. It integrates with your existing email and network environment to provide active notification and escalation communications based on user-defined thresholds. A SMS Information Management solution integrates customer complaint management, supplier management, employees, training and assets into a single data system providing you with an unmatched capability to monitor and manage safety across all of your operations.  A SMS Information Management solution supports voluntary and confidential reporting including ASAP, MSAP, ISAP, RSAP (Air, Maintenance, In-flight and Ramp Safety Action Programs respectively), integrates with FOQA and FRMS (such as Jeppesen’s CrewAlert, enables mobile users, and supports IEP programs.

Unlike other software solutions that focus exclusively on reporting, a SMS Information Management solution is based on the PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT cycle promoted by FAA and ICAO in the Global Aviation Safety Roadmap and ISO for global quality systems. This enables a systematic and holistic approach to Safety Management with a single, central solution that integrates the management and analysis of incidents alongside proactive SMS activities such as internal audit providing effective Safety Risk Management and Safety Assurance.