"The Role of Safety Management Systems in ensuring Airworthiness"
Pollys Aviation blog

The Role of Safety Management Systems (SMS) in ensuring Airworthiness
By Polly Thomson

"Elevating Airworthiness is a crucial role of Safety Management Systems (SMS) in Aviation"", Polly says

In the complex and dynamic world of aviation, ensuring airworthiness is of paramount importance to ensure the safety of passengers, crew, and aircraft. 

A critical component in achieving and maintaining airworthiness is the implementation of Safety Management Systems (SMS). 

SMS is a comprehensive and systematic approach that plays a pivotal role in identifying, assessing, and managing risks associated with aviation operations. Its integration within the aviation industry has significantly enhanced safety standards and contributed to the prevention of accidents and incidents.

Defining Safety Management Systems (SMS)

Safety Management Systems (SMS) is an organized framework designed to proactively manage safety risks in aviation operations. 

It involves a set of principles, policies, procedures, and practices that facilitate the identification of potential hazards and the development of strategies to mitigate these risks. 

SMS is an evolution from the traditional reactive approach to safety management, shifting the focus from merely responding to incidents to a more proactive stance that aims to prevent them.

Integration of SMS in Airworthiness

The integration of SMS within the framework of airworthiness is a harmonious collaboration that reinforces aviation safety. 

By encompassing pillars, SMS strengthens the aviation industry's approach to ensuring airworthiness. It not only addresses safety concerns comprehensively but also cultivates a culture of vigilance, collaboration, and innovation, which are pivotal in maintaining the highest standards of passenger safety.

Harmonizing SMS in Aviation,bridging the gap between Annex 19 and EU Regulations

In the realm of aviation safety, the integration of safety management systems (SMS) has emerged as a cornerstone for maintaining the highest standards of airworthiness and operational integrity. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recognized the paramount importance of SMS and introduced Annex 19 'Safety Management' to set forth globally recognized safety management standards and recommended practices (SARPs). However, the journey of harmonizing these standards with European Union (EU) regulations has encountered both progress and challenges.

ICAO took a significant stride in July 2013 by publishing the inaugural edition of Annex 19 'Safety Management.' This groundbreaking framework outlined the pivotal role of SMS in ensuring safe operations across various aviation domains. Building on this foundation, ICAO unveiled the second edition in July 2016, reinforcing its commitment to promoting a proactive approach to safety.

SMS in maintenance

Within the framework of ICAO Annex 19, the implementation of SMS finds its application in maintenance, design, and production organizations. While the incorporation of SMS within these sectors represents a monumental leap towards enhancing safety, the process of aligning ICAO Annex 19 with the EU regulatory landscape has encountered complexities.

For design and production organizations operating within the European Union, the existing legal framework under Part 21 already encompasses organizational requirements that address certain safety management aspects. However, the complete transposition of ICAO Annex 19's safety management SARPs into the EU regulatory framework remains a work in progress.

Maintenance organizations, on the other hand, have seen a selective integration of SMS. Commission Regulation (EU) No 1321/2014 delineates the requirement for SMS implementation in Part-145 organizations, which perform maintenance on aircraft operated by licensed air carriers and complex motor-powered aircraft (CMPA). 

This aligns with ICAO Annex 19's stipulations, which mandate SMS for organizations engaged in international commercial air transport. Yet, it's important to note that no SMS requirement exists in Part-CAO, which pertains to general aviation (GA) continuing airworthiness activities.

A pivotal aspect of the integration process lies in the explicit call of Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2018/1139, which urges design, production, and maintenance organizations to establish and uphold a management system encompassing safety risk management. This management system aims at fostering continuous safety improvement and is reinforced by the establishment of an occurrence-reporting system.

As the aviation industry continually evolves to meet new challenges, the harmonization of safety management practices remains a priority. 

The journey to seamlessly integrate ICAO Annex 19's SARPs with the EU regulatory framework underscores the commitment of aviation authorities and stakeholders towards creating a unified approach to safety management. By bridging the gap between these standards, aviation organizations can ensure a cohesive, robust, and comprehensive safety management system that serves as the bedrock for maintaining airworthiness and passenger safety in the skies.

SOURCE : EASA - SMS safety benefits through the EASA survey 2020

Integration of SMS in Airworthiness

The aviation industry is a complex system that demands unwavering commitment to safety and operational excellence. As air travel continues to evolve, regulatory bodies and stakeholders strive to ensure that safety management practices remain at the forefront. In this pursuit, the new PART 145 amendments mark a significant stride towards aligning safety management systems (SMS) with the continuing airworthiness management organization requirements (Part-CAMO) and Part-145 regulations.

The foundation of these proposed amendments is rooted in the integration of SMS principles into the existing regulatory framework. Specifically, the amendments build upon the management system requirements of Subparts 'GEN' of the Authority and Organization Requirements (AR/OR). These requirements have already been embraced in the Aircrew and Air Operations Regulations, creating a harmonized approach across various domains of aviation operations.

A cornerstone of the proposed amendments is the alignment with the SMS requirements outlined in Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2014. This alignment holds particular significance for air operators holding multiple approvals, including Part-CAMO and Part-145. The incorporation of SMS elements into Part-145 follows the approach employed in other aviation domains, emphasizing the establishment of a comprehensive management system.

An illustrative example is the introduction of point 145.A.200 'Management system' within Part-145, which amalgamates the existing quality system with ICAO SMS principles. This holistic approach resonates with the management system requirement stipulated by the Basic Regulation and mirrors the structure of point ORO.GEN.200 'Management system' in Annex III (Part-ORO) of Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2014.

These harmonization efforts extend beyond organizational requirements to encompass the expectations placed on competent authorities. The alignment is not only indicative of a concerted effort towards industry-wide safety enhancement but also showcases the commitment of regulatory authorities to fostering a cohesive approach to aviation safety management.

Furthermore, the proposed amendments consider the critical aspect of occurrence reporting. These requirements have been meticulously aligned with Regulation (EU) No 376/2014, a vital step in streamlining incident reporting practices and ensuring a comprehensive approach to safety data collection and analysis. This alignment contributes to the holistic SMS, enhancing its effectiveness in identifying and addressing potential safety risks.

Recognizing the domain-specific nuances, the amendments to Part-145 have been strategically designed to underscore risks specific to maintenance activities. For instance, a significant amendment introduces consideration for external working teams (point 145.A.47), reflecting the evolving nature of maintenance operations.

In the ever-evolving landscape of aviation safety, the proposed amendments to SMS in Part-145 and Part-CAMO regulations exemplify a collaborative effort to fortify airworthiness and operational safety. By integrating SMS principles into these regulations, regulatory bodies demonstrate their commitment to fostering a proactive safety culture, data-driven decision-making, and a comprehensive approach to managing safety risks. As the aviation industry continues its forward trajectory, these amendments stand as a testament to the unwavering dedication towards achieving the highest standards of safety and operational integrity.

SMS approach in airworthiness

The SMS approach complements the traditional airworthiness standards by addressing safety issues from a broader perspective. 

Here's how SMS enhances airworthiness:

Remember all references of previous PART 145 to: 

Polly promotes SMS TRAINING with this approach. Ask also to SALLY ANDERSON (Steia Aviation SMS TRAINER)

SMS remains a crucial tool

The integration of Safety Management Systems (SMS) within the aviation industry plays a vital role in ensuring airworthiness. SMS enhances aviation safety by promoting a proactive approach to risk management, continuous improvement, data-driven decision-making, collaboration, and regulatory compliance. 

As the aviation landscape continues to evolve, SMS remains a crucial tool in maintaining the highest standards of airworthiness and passenger safety.

Polly Thomson - August 2023

STEIA AVIATION - Specialized Safety Promoter

eMAIL : polly.steiaviation@gmail.com