Benefits of Safety Management in Aviation - Aviation Professional

Benefits of Safety Management in Aviation


Safety Management in Aviation

"If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial".

Wilbur Wright, from an address to the Western Society of Engineers in Chicago, 18 September 1901.

In my opinion, Wilbur Wright pointed to the first reactive safety method to manage safety and pointed to the first safety management defenses which are training and technology.


What is Safety Management in Aviation?

Safety management seeks to proactively mitigate safety risks before they result in aviation accidents and incidents. (ICAO, Doc 9859,1.1.1)

This mean, to prioritize actions to address safety risks and more effectively manage its resources for the optimal benefit of aviation safety.

In aviation, ICAO has required its member states to develop and implement a State safety programme (SSP) and oversight a safety management system (SMSs) for its service providers.

A State’s safety programme must combined with the SMSs of service providers, and systematically addresses safety risks, to improves the safety performance of each service provider.  As a result, improves the State’s safety performance.


Benefits of Safety Management

There are many benefits to implementing safety management, some of which include:

a) Strengthened safety culture

 An organization’s safety culture can be strengthened by making visible the commitment of management and actively involving personnel in the management of safety risk.

When management actively endorses safety as a priority, it is typically well-received by personnel and becomes part of normal operations.

 b) Documented, process-based approach to assure safety

Establishes a clear and documented approach to achieving safe operations that is understandable by personnel and can be readily explained to others. In addition, clearly defining baseline performance allows controlled changes when continuously improving the safety programme/system, thereby helping the organization optimize resources required to implement change.

c) Better understanding of safety-related interfaces and relationships

The process of documenting and defining safety management interfaces can benefit the organization’s understanding of the interprocess relationships, leading to an enhanced understanding of the end-to-end process and exposing opportunities for increased efficiencies.

d) Enhanced early detection of safety hazards

Improves the State/service provider's ability to detect emerging safety issues, which can prevent accidents and incidents through the proactive identification of hazards and management of safety risks.

e) Safety data-driven decision-making

 Improves the State/service provider's ability to gather safety data for the purpose of safety analysis. With some strategic thinking to determine what questions need to be answered, the resulting safety information can aid decision makers, in near real-time, to make better-informed, valid decisions. An important aspect of this decision-making is the allocation of resources to areas of greater concern or need.

f) Enhanced communication of safety

Provides a common safety language throughout an organization and industry. A common safety language is a key enabler to the development of a common understanding of the organization’s safety goals and accomplishments. In particular, it provides an appreciation for the organization's safety objectives and its safety performance indicators (SPIs) and safety performance targets (SPTs), which provide the direction and motivation for safety. Personnel will be more aware of the organization’s performance and the progress being made toward achieving the defined safety objectives, as well as how they contribute to the organization’s success. The common safety language enables service providers with multiple aviation businesses to aggregate safety information across organizational entities. It is necessary to support the management of interfaces across the aviation system.

 g) Evidence that safety is a priority

Demonstrates how management supports and enables safety, how safety risks are identified and managed, and how safety performance is continually improved, resulting in increased confidence by the aviation community, internal and external to the organization. This also results in personnel who are confident about the organization’s safety performance, which can lead to the increased attraction and retention of high calibre staff. It also allows for States and regional safety oversight organizations (RSOOs) to develop confidence in the safety performance of service providers.

h) Possible financial savings

 May allow for some service providers to qualify for a discount on their insurance premiums and/or a reduction to their workers’ compensation premiums based on their SMS results.

i) Improved efficiencies

Possible reduction in the cost of operations by exposing inefficiencies in existing processes and systems. Integration with other internal or external management systems may also save on additional costs.

j) Cost avoidance

Through the proactive identification of hazards and safety risk management (SRM) the cost incurred due to accidents and incidents can be avoided. In such cases, direct costs may include: injuries; property damage; equipment repairs; and schedule delays.

Indirect costs may include: legal action; loss of business and damaged reputation; surplus spares; tools and training; increased insurance premiums; loss of staff productivity; equipment recovery and clean-up; loss of use of equipment leading to short-term replacement equipment; and internal investigations.


In addition to many benefits, safety management should not be viewed as simply a means to an end or a blind adherence to industry standards, but rather as a company and industry wide commitment to the best practices and continuous improvement of everything safety related. 


Further reading :

- ICAO Doc 9859 , Safety Management Manual.

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