Lessons from Teaching SMS Course in the Peoples’ Republic of China

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JDA partnered with G&W to teach 31 Chinese airport employees/middle managers/executives and three Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) representatives about implementing Safety Management Systems. Clearly, the influences of ICAO’s SMS mandate caused airports from five of the seven CAAC regions of China to convene in Beijing for two days of training.

Dual language slides and rehearsed translation overcame the challenge of teaching a complex, technical discipline through translators.  Unlike much of the published training, which tends to be generic SMS concepts, the JDA training focuses on SMS implementation specific to the airport environment utilizing actual airport examples and software tools.

The class was subdivided into teams that were tasked to apply the SMS concepts. The results showed that, in specific application, the groups identified excellent examples of hazards, worst credible outcomes, existing controls, existing risk, mitigation actions and residual risk based on short and long term mitigation strategies.

Challenges to implementing SMS are universal.  However, the Chinese hierarchical culture increases the challenge of collecting safety reports.  Anonymous reporting will be a critical tool in gaining the necessary participation.  Effective mitigation strategies, coupled with a just culture that promotes the positive results of involvement, will eventually foster the necessary trust to encourage more reporting.

At the close of the course, it was clear that the graduates not only assimilated SMS, but were eager to apply their new knowledge in their work. As teachers and advocates of SMS, it was rewarding to see the excitement of the students to enhance the safety performance of their individual airport.

ICAO’s promotional efforts are having impact around the globe and we are proud to have planted SMS flags in the Peoples Republic of China.

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