Designing and implementing an aviation Safety Management System (SMS)

Designing and implementing an aviation Safety Management System (SMS) is difficult to understand and doHow do you ensure compliance, readiness and continuous improvement when the amount of policies and procedures – both required and recommended are endless?

Add in the vast gray areas of interpretation and applicability to your operation, understanding exactly what needs to be done to have a SMS in place can be a daunting task. The good news is that today there are many tools and resources available to make SMS compliance easier and more effective. Undoubtedly, whatever device you’re reading this blog on is one of the biggest resources you have, whether it is a smart phone, tablet, or laptop.

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While that may sound obvious, how well are you leveraging the capabilities of that technology to make managing your SMS easier?

We all know that aviation is built on checklists, and SMS is certainly no different. With the use of customizable electronic checklists, accomplishing a monthly hangar safety audit, daily ladder inspection, IS-BAO quarterly audit, etc., is as easy as flipping through your favorite social media app. Because these checklists are completely user managed, one can be created for essentially any task in your SMS. Additionally, since you’re using them electronically, there is the same level of authentication, traceability, and access that you would have with your electronic logbooks.

Another way you can leverage technology in your SMS is to track and manage all your recurring SMS items in your maintenance tracking software system, just as you would with your aircraft. Items such as audits, tool calibration, OSHA inspections, monthly fire extinguisher checks, safety meetings, and training can all be treated as a maintenance item that would show up on a due list and easily signed off on. Again, because this is being accomplished electronically, the audit trail, compliance history, and next due is all done automatically and accessible from your device(s); so, you’re not wasting your time keeping your SMS binder up-to-date and trying to figure out when the next audit is coming up. If you get asked to provide proof of compliance, with a few clicks of a mouse, the entire history is available, no matter where you are or what device you’re using.

Speaking of binders, how accessible are those to your employees? Are your SMS, SOP manuals, and other departmental manuals sitting in a dusty binder at the back of the office or are they available electronically? Can these policies be viewed on any device, in particular a device that may be assigned to an aircraft, such as an iPad or electronic flight bag? Cloud based storage, such as the  Documents module within Flightdocs can provide unlimited data storage for all your SMS documentation.. Users can access, view, print or download documents regardless if they are using an iPad, smart phone, or laptop. With electronic document storage, you can also upload miscellaneous documentation such as, tool calibration certificates, to manage those documents electronically, eliminating the need for a file cabinet full of outdated paperwork and potential missing certificates.

Managing your SMS and driving compliance is easier than you think!

The more cumbersome processes are, the less likely you and those you work with will comply. By leveraging solutions, like cloud based maintenance and inventory management systems, you take the pains out of paperwork and leverage easy to use tools like; FAA compliant e-Signatures, digital checklists, cloud based document storage, and connectivity across your entire flight department, when you need it on devices you are already using! Your maintenance and inventory software are much more capable than only tracking aircraft maintenance items, so don’t be afraid of incorporating it into your safety management strategy and other areas of your department to see how it can save you time, money, and frustration.

Learn more about Digital Checklists and watch this webinar!

Manual vs Automated: How data entry methods & errors affect your flight department’s operations

The eSignature is an acceptable method of compliance not only for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but for all branches of the United States Federal Government and regulatory bodies around the world. The acceptance of the eSignature coupled with the operational adoption of technology and web-based applications, has seen a surge in opportunities for a more streamlined and efficient workflow.

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This approach to workflow completion and compliance allows many organizations to utilize it in such a way that it
increases accountability and oversite, while at the same time decreases the intrusion into a technician’s time. The primary way that this occurs is through the reduction of data redundancy. When you do not have to duplicate your work efforts time and time again, you save time not only on thedata entry, but also measures that allow for data correction.

The two most common type of errors are transcription and transposition.

  • Transcription errors are when the data is entered incorrectly such as typos, repetition of words or phrases, and deletion or omission of words. Fortunately, we have spell check, however, traditional spell check doesn’t like many of the technical terms used in aviation, and sometimes a simple letter change can change the whole word.
  • Transposition errors are what happens when you get your numbers mixed up. Did that result in you overflying? Did you schedule maintenance earlier than is prudent? Did you miss a critical inspection?

Two of the most straightforward ways to reduce Error Introduction is to reduce data redundancy and to incorporate Operational Automation.

In most operations, there are many positions where data redundancy is a way of life. People must fill out the same paperwork multiple times, entering and re-entering the same data different times in multiple places repeatedly. Every time you re-enter data into a new place, you introduce the opportunity for error. Many operations have incorporated templates to reduce the amount of typing, which reduces the amount of opportunities for error introduction. The templates help, however when you type the same thing over and over, you now must remember everywhere you entered that data and in the case an error was introduced, you now must find each entry and verify the accuracy. What if you miss one? What if you messed up in a different way on each entry? Utilizing copy and paste helps, but that doesn’t always work depending on the software you are using and what if you copy and paste the error over and over?

Leverage technology! Use systems and services that reduce data entry redundancy, streamline your operations, allow you to enter the data in one place and disseminate across multiple usages. This singular location for data entry:

  • Allows the effective implementation of eSignature
  • Simplifies quality checks and corrects errors
  • Secures the historical record
  • Eliminates the need for paper and space to store boxes and boxes of records – saving you thousands in operational costs.

So why use an e-Signature?

The easiest answer is because you can! The FAA, EASA, Transport Canada, along with a host of other regulatory authorities allow it and have issued documentation on how to implement and utilize in your operations. The regulatory bodies along with service providers have worked to come up with systems and processes that are not only effective in the authentication of the user, but also streamline the work flow.

A requirement of an effective eSignature implementation is the ability to preserve the “paper” trail in a digital world. To implement the eSignature and be compliant there must be a trail, a historical record of what was done, who signed it, and in what manner. Every time something is signed off, the record must stand in that same state, errors and all. You must have the paper trail. With eSignature, you have the historical data and the paper trail. However, this time you don’t have to redo every piece of paper to correct an error. Depending on your provider, you should be able to error correct an entry within 10 minutes or less, saving you time, money, headache, and reducing the chances of introducing new errors through redundant work.

So how do you implement an eSignature into your operations? The best way is to find a partner who has the technology and has already developed the tools. Ensuring that the tools not only meet the regulatory requirements, but also are in step with the latest technological advances and standards for eSignature deployment.

Think about using the eSignature for your log book entries, check lists, work orders – anything in your operations where it is important to know who did the work and is confirming it was done correctly. Use the eSignature for internal compliance, for program compliance such as your SMS programs, maybe ISBAO, ARGUS. Think about where could you utilize this tool to streamline your operations and effectively document your workflow.

The possibilities for implementation are endless, and the value added to your work day by streamlining the paperwork associated with an effective aviation operation, is priceless.

For more information on eSignature, watch this on-demand webinar!

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