The International Air Transport Association (IATA) provides a wide range of training courses dealing with all aspects of safety management systems (SMS); one of its external instructors tells Airside International about the latest in the series, a course on SMS designed for ground handing agents (GHAs)
In 2013, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decided that, with air traffic projected to double in the next 15 years, safety risks had to be addressed proactively to ensure “that this significant capacity expansion is carefully managed and supported through strategic regulatory and infrastructure developments”.
An annex dedicated to safety management would reinforce the role played by the state in managing safety at the state level, stressing the concept of overall safety performance in all domains, in co-ordination with service providers, the body noted. The term ‘service providers’ includes:
• Approved training organisations
• Operators of aeroplanes or helicopters authorised to conduct international commercial air transport
• Approved maintenance organisations providing services to operators as described in Point 2 above
• Organisations responsible for the type, design or manufacture of aircraft
• Air traffic services (ATS) providers
• Operators of certified aerodromes
This was the origin of ICAO’s Annex 19 and the bringing together of a range of safety-related issues (including such matters as aircraft airworthiness, air traffic services and aerodrome design and operations, as well as the operation of aircraft) under the one annex.
Chapter 4 of Annex 19 deals specifically with safety management systems, and has prompted much of the emphasis placed in the last few years on promoting SMS training, such as that provided by IATA.
IATA SMS training
Hervé Gueusquin is an external instructor for IATA in the areas of safety and ground operations. He is also a master’s lecturer at ENAC, the French Civil Aviation University.
The range of SMS training offered by IATA covers courses designed for airlines, civil aviation authorities, airports and ground handlers.
According to IATA, the five-day SMS course will help those who take it to reduce the rate and cost of accidents and incidents, improve communication and productivity, and help those involved meet their legal responsibility to manage safety.
The course facilitates the creation of a safety culture within an organisation, explaining the relevance of risk management in relation to SMS and teaching those who attend how to evaluate, prioritise and mitigate risk. It also offers thoughts on understanding the impact human factors have on safety, and develop skills in detecting, controlling and preventing errors in an airport environment.
Given that ground handlers are now being asked in contracts with airline customers to demonstrate both that they have an SMS in place and that they adhere to it on a day-to-day basis, the need for this sort of training has become even more pronounced.
So what does the SMS course provide? “A safety programme is an integrated set of regulations and activities aimed at improving the safety of operations,” Gueusquin says, but an SMS is an organised approach to the management of safety, which includes organisational structures, accountability, policies and procedures. Or, to put it another way, SMS might be defined as “an organised set of processes and procedures, based upon a principled allocation of resources that allows the control of safety risks to an acceptable level”.
A good SMS will, he continues:
• Identify possible hazards
• Ensure that the necessary corrective actions are implemented to reduce and/or mitigate risks and dangers
• Provide continuous monitoring and regular evaluation of the level of safety acquired
Some of the issues relating to SMS which are covered by the training include: policy; purpose; applicability; responsibilities; safety training; standard operating procedures (SOPs); human factors; managing risk; audits and inspections safety performance monitoring; and emergency response.
For the efficient implementation of an SMS, an enterprise will need a balance of situational and risk awareness; information and training; organisation and commitment; effective policies; defensive measures; and responsibility and accountability, Gueusquin says.