"Is it Legal?" versus "Is it Safe?"

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When your organization complies and meets the regulatory requirements necessary to operate then that is considered being legal and safe by the FAA. Is there more that can be done to be “Safer?” The FAA, through its various policies, processes and procedures, determines what is “legal;” anything less compliant than that, therefore, is “Illegal” or more commonly referred to as non compliant. The FAA sets the minimum standards to which any operator must adhere and they set these minimums because they are the criteria that provide the minimum level of safety. What does that really mean to the overall level of safety?

We can assume with absolute certainty that the FAA has the mission “to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.” In recent years, the FAA has mandated enhanced safety systems such as Traffic and Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems (E-GPWS) among others. But, what else can we, as the operators, do to enhance our level of safety?

Safety Management Systems (SMS), if followed, will certainly enhance an operator’s safety presence and risk identification and mitigation. JDA firmly believes in the benefit that SMS can add to any organization and has been licensed by MITRE/CAASD to be an SMS training provider. The questions though are, “What is SMS?” and, “How can SMS enhance an operator’s safety system?”

With a good implementation plan, strong senior management commitment, a robust reporting system, expert support and a solid manual system, SMS can be managed like any other program within your company. It does not have to be an overwhelming and complex task that requires excessive resources. Yes, there might be some manual re-writing involved, but usually an operator’s manual system already contains many of the requirements and procedures to satisfy the SMS protocols. JDA offers consultative services to assist operators in getting their SMS in place. Additionally, JDA has auditors on staff and has associates that can perform a Gap Analysis to determine what or how much has to be done to get a fully functional SMS in place.

Although not yet required in the US, SMS is currently required by some countries to operate within those particular countries. The responsibility to prove an operator has an SMS is left up to that operator. One way to provide proof for Part 91 operators is through an IS-BAO audit. This audit is a third-party verification of an operator’s SMS manual system. JDA offers IS-BAO audit services as well as SMS and Auditor training. Auditor training is essential to make certain safety personnel are aware of all that is necessary to ensure all aspects of an operator’s manual system conform to the SMS Audit Protocols.

Being fully trained in audit procedures, completing the SMS requirements and becoming IS-BAO accredited are some of the “extras” that go beyond the minimum requirements of safety. These elements add to any operator’s safety system and are best practices that help mitigate risks, enhance safety, reduce liability, and limit exposure. JDA’s full line of aviation safety training and certification services adds quality and safety to an operator’s procedures and processes.

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