SMS Roundtable Presentations Point Out a Number of Lessons, including the value of Smart Automation

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Safety Management System Implementation Study Roundtable Meeting Presentations

Airport SMSThe FAA recently updated its website on Safety Management System (SMS) for airports by including 13 presentations from a round table meeting of the four airports that are trying this advanced safety approach. The materials there are voluminous and show the lessons gained from their efforts. A review of them provides interesting insights, summarized here:

  • Start early
  • Consider framework and software solution early
  • Safety portals
  • Holistic SMS
  • Collecting SMS data and Part 139 data from historic and future daily airport safety inspection records, accidents and incidents
  • Utilizing safety databases of the NTSB and others in gathering data on subject airport and assessing risk

The data collection and management systems used by the 13 airports varied from paper-and-pencil records to systems collecting and managing the FAR Part 139 and SMS data. There appear to be four SMS pioneers (DFW, DBQ, JAX & SBN) who demonstrated the ability of an automated system to manage the data collected in supporting SMS.

One airport stressed a “green” system through maximizing electronic retention versus paper methodology.

A review of the presentations revealed that the biggest impression was the disparity of progress among the 13 airports. Those that were automated in the analysis of the numbers were making the greatest progress.

The backbone of SMS is data collection and management. Collecting data is easy. Many systems can collect data. However, the distinguishing factor is the ability to manage and assess the data efficiently once you have collected it. The airports that:

  • understood the magnitude and breadth of the data to be collected and
  • were able to discern what the trends were or what data points were significant

appeared to do the best at creating a solution to manage the data.

That cogent observation suggests a possible amendment that should be addressed by the FAA before the release of the final rule.The need for smart automation, a system that more than collects numbers, that can sift through the statistics to find the points of merit, should be part of their SMS initiative.

For those airports seeking to capture the safety reduction benefits of SMS now, there is a team of professionals who have experience with SMS implementation and technology integration at airports. JDA specializes in technology integration into the Part 139 environment. JDA associates have experience with integrating and or customizing six of the nine technologies represented.

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