Although their details will change subtly from airline to airline, the main four principles of a safety management system are policy, risk management, assurance and promotion.

The following is an overview of these four main components that, together, combine for an effective and systemic SMS, with links to more in-depth information.

Policy: The first stage of any SMS implementation that in essence defines the airline management’s commitment to safety and lays the foundations for a safer, more open operation. It is a statement of the airline’s dedication to and responsibility for making safety its number one priority.

Risk management: A process to first identify, then analyse and finally mitigate against any potential hazards. Systems can include reactive and proactive approaches for greater overall risk management effectiveness.      

Assurance: Systems to monitor and benchmark the airline’s performance against its set objectives. This is the process by which the airline’s management can demonstrate that its safety policies and commitments are being met.

Promotion: The only way to improve overall safety culture is to ensure there are clear and effective communication channels throughout your organisation. Evidence-based examples of safety in action, including successes and lessons learned, feed into the culture of continuous improvement and helps to keep safety front of mind throughout the airline.

An airline’s SMS should provide a framework for proactive and integrated systems that not only make the organisation safer, but that encourage openness and the move towards a “just culture”.

It should also encompass the airline’s structure, from the board down, and outline such things as the resources which are available, key personnel and their responsibilities, the relevant authorities and their contact details and a comprehensive document letting people know the ways in which important decisions are taken and how risk – and the reporting of potential hazards – are treated and managed.

Vistair’s suite of software solutions are designed to help airlines with their safety, management and compliance responsibilities.