What is Aviation Safety Management?
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), safety management is a consistent approach to hazard identification and safety risk management, reducing and controlling risks to, or below, an acceptable level.
Civil Aviation Safety Management refers to activities including decision-making, planning, organization, and regulation, to attain the objectives of aviation operational safety, which includes necessary organizational structure, responsibilities, policies, and procedures. By applying modern safety management principles, as well as analyzing a multitude of unsafe factors, risks can be mitigated and solved from technical, organizational, and management aspects.
The Current Development of China’s Aviation Safety Management
China’s aviation safety management has gone through several notable periods: the age of technology, human factors, organizations, and the system-wide era that we are currently in.
The age of technology refers to the early 20th century to the late 1970s, when aviation emerged as a form of mass transportation, and its identified safety deficiencies were associated with technical failures or errors. Therefore, technical investigations and improvements were the main focus at the time. Until the 1950s, as technology improved and accident rates declined, the developing objectives gradually shifted to regulations and compliance.
The age of human factors refers to the period from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s. In the early 1970s, the accident rate was greatly reduced due to continuous improvement in technology and safety regulation framework. Aviation has become a safer mode of transportation, and the developing safety objectives further extended to the human-machine interface. Despite the resources invested in reducing human errors, they are still a major cause of accidents.
The age of organization refers to the time from 2001 to 2010 when people began to review safety from a systematic perspective. Apart from technical and human factors, organizational factors were also included. Considering the impact of organizational culture and policies on safety risk management, the concept of structural organization was adopted. In addition, the traditional method of data research and analysis was limited to the data collected in the investigation of incidents and serious accidents. To tackle the problem, a new and proactive approach to safety was introduced.
During the time, civil aviation safety management began to move towards standardization and systematization: building a structured framework, constructing a system, establishing procedures, and setting standards.
With the increasing modernization of civil aviation, and the growing scale of operations, the division of labor has become more detailed, and the production cooperation with different industries and different posts in the aviation industry has become more extensive. China’s civil aviation has made great leaps in safety management, with the construction of five systems – Supervision System, Legal and Regulatory System, Safety Information Reporting System, Internal Regulation System, and the Aviation Safety Management System (SMS).
In 2010, China officially entered the system-wide era. The entire aviation industry was viewed as a system, all service providers and their safety management systems were regarded as sub-systems, which allows a country to consider the relationships between different service providers, as well as how they work together.
Safety Management System
Achieving safety is an essential foundation to any country or company; without it, no country can grow successfully. This doesn’t only apply to business and general aviation industry, but also in commercial aviation as well. ICAO defines Safety Management Systems (SMS) as “a systematic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, responsibilities, policies, and procedures.” This provides a blueprint for civil aviation safety policies, which aims to improve the quality of aviation safety management in mainland China, and to provide a scientific safety management model for managing authorities, safety concepts, tools, and methods, to achieve a standardized safety management system.
Unlike traditional safety management, SMS is about emphasizing the organizational factors of unsafe behaviors and the potential factors of incidents. With the improvements in organization and pre-incident management, the core aspects of SMS are risk management, prevention, and proactive approach. It is significant that everyone participates and takes responsibility for the SMS, as well as forming self-managed, self-supervised, and self-improving practices. These have greatly contributed to safety management in civil aviation.
Moreover, ICAO member countries have developed and implemented ‘Safety Management Systems’ for civil aviation to achieve the industry requirement of aviation safety.
Top-level Safety Management Design
A good example is Sino Jet. In 2018, the company became the first business jet operator in mainland China to achieve IS-BAO Stage 3 certification – the highest level of achievement to be awarded by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC).
Sino Jet believes that safety management can be divided into four aspects: Corporate Culture, Talent, Management Policy, and Advanced Technology.
First up is Corporate Culture. Sino Jet values Honesty, Integrity and Detail-mindedness. The company is aware that it is worth keeping an eye on hidden risks, as these can be the root cause of incidents.
Secondly, Talent. Sino Jet has implemented an effective talent acquisition program. The team members at Sino Jet are experienced in their fields and have professional skills and knowledge in operational safety. Sino Jet also conducts various safety training courses for employees once they are on board, which includes workplace safety procedures, internal assessment in safety management, course participation of civil aviation management institutions, and inviting experts to share insights on international safety management.
Thirdly, Policy Management. All employees in Sino Jet share operational safety as a common goal. Based on the regulation manual of the Civil Aviation Authority, Sino Jet has refined specific standard operation procedures and formulated corresponding incentives. By enjoying a safer workplace with established policies, the company aims to enhance operational safety.
Fourth, Advanced Technology. Apart from applying professional and technical skills to daily work, information technology has been adopted in daily operations as well. Sino Jet has developed its own safety management system, maintenance, and operating program, and introduced an advanced Flight Operational Quality Assurance & Data Monitoring System, Global Satellite Positioning System, and Weather Monitoring System.
Overall, Sino Jet accomplished the goal of operational safety by creating an atmosphere for safe operations, electing talents, and constantly providing employees opportunities to improve, with provisions of advanced technology to support their work. With concerted efforts, Sino Jet became the first company in mainland China to achieve IS-BAO Stage 3 and successfully renewed it this year.
Information Technology in Safety Management
Throughout the aviation industry, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) runs through every part of operations, and all employees strictly follow the regulations and operating manuals. However, human error is inevitable, so technical applications are required in this case. Sino Jet, as an industry leader that has consecutively passed the International Business Jet Operating Standard IS-BAO Stage 3 Certification twice, has applied key information technologies, including but not limited to modern communications, the Internet, and data analysis in daily operation. The overall implementation of safety operations in each procedure strengthens the risk control of high-complexity production.
According to business operations, Sino Jet has developed a Safety Management System (SMS), Flight Operations System (FOS), Maintenance Management System (MMS), and also introduced a Quick Access Recorder (QAR) and other flight quality monitoring systems, such as a Global Satellite Positioning Systems and Weather Monitoring Systems, etc. These provide scientific statistics to support decision-making in safety production. The information is processed promptly, which facilitates simpler, more standardized, and systematic operation, which is the safety management goal.
The Future Plan of Sino Jet Safety Management
Sino Jet believes that safety management has a long way to go. Safety operations must be delivered to each employee layer by layer, to avoid human errors in the workplace and to correct and execute any deviations in the system.
At the same time, safety awareness should be strengthened. To ensure all employees work consistently under safety regulations, instant measurements of safety performances should be adopted to spot errors. Also, the safety operation guidelines should be adjusted in different conditions and kept updated over time, which is essential to prevent the system from becoming outdated.
Finally, to promote safety operations comprehensively in multiple dimensions, an incentive plan should be used to motivate employees, which will encourage them to pursue work safety proactively, and tackle problems positively.
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