NBAA is circulating a survey which will gather information from its members, particularly the small flight departments, in order to conduct a Risk Assessment. That is a very creative mechanism to learn where SMS principles can be applied in this segment of the association’s membership.
SMS is the state-of-the-art safety discipline as decreed by ICAO and the FAA as well as implemented to great advantage by the certificated carriers. It has proved to move the perspective of aviation perspective from retroactive problem-fixing to prospective problem preventing. The primary tool which has supported this significant shift has been the collection and submission of data from the airlines leading to collaborative problem solving between the regulator and the regulated.
SMS and SRA are powerful tools, but in order to optimize their effectiveness, they demand a lot of work. Recording, organizing and submitting information with the degree of specificity needed constitutes a major use of the one or two pilot organization. Their time demands are already substantial—planning the flight itinerary, reserving appropriate hangar space, securing fuel, obtaining the necessary clearances, researching the weather, making the needed collateral arrangements for each proposed flight; between assignments: training, maintaining currencies, reviewing MX records, making the necessary MX schedules, etc. The company also includes internal bookkeeping for tax and SEC reasons.
The addition of the careful preparation and submission of the SMS reports will likely detract from their line duties.
The NBAA survey should provide substantial qualitative and quantitative information to create a useful macro picture of what these small flight departments are encountering in terms of risks. The questions are relevant and easily answered in a relatively short period of time. The NBAA professional staff can then accumulate and analyze the SRA survey information. This technique does not meet the usually more exacting standards of SMS data collection, but it is an exquisite methodology to create a useful way to learn from these operators without undue burden.
SMS light is not SMS slight.