Designing and implementing an aviation Safety Management System (SMS) is difficult to understand and do. How 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.
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.