Why Our Aviation Industry SMS Faces Continued Challenges?

Woman drawing red airplane 609080538 3725x2678Our Industry continues to face multiple challenges, including the obligation to comply with a significant regulatory burden but it does not stop there! Other initiatives abound introduced by for example IATA (IOSA) and other niche compliance & SMS drivers (ISBAO & ISBAH for business operators).

With Safety Management Systems, we have superimposed on this story of “compliance” a need to identify exposure in a different way using forward looking techniques where typically we identify gather data to evaluate the risk and exposure to “all” perceived hazards.

Once we have an assessment related to the degree of exposure we can proceed to the next stage and to develop appropriate mitigations which we anticipate will reduce the risk of exposure.
The problems we face in delivering what is potentially a straight forward and rewarding business process can be divided into a several key areas which present a number of factors which conspire to hold back the effectiveness of our Aviation Safety Management Systems including:

1. Insufficient training for the key stakeholders of the Risk Assessment - Mitigation Development process (Without Training how can anyone be truly effective)
2. An over focus on a compliant-based approach only ever measures identified reactive risks. An SMS requires data to drive it successfully - have we performed a “Data Audit” (If not to Consider)
3. How do we share and benchmark risks across the industry, there is much that can be done here and the current role of the regulatory is generally weak in proactive behaviours.
4. How do we determine specific organisational risks and how robust are our current tools?
5. How can we propel the Organisation into a “proactive” outlook attitude and behaviour?
6. Currently much of the risk management effort is related to reactive analysis!
7. Mitigation Actions are not necessarily impacting events – why?
8. Extreme Difficulty to identify the Risk of a “random” event!

How do we know our SMS Risk Management is Real?

What does real look like? Well we need to be able to achieve effective identification of all known risks which our operation faces, to achieve this with information from all data sources.

- By being able to effectively assess all risks within our organisation using a consistent approach
- By being able to deliver effective mitigation proposals for all identified risks
- By Being able to measure the effectiveness of our actions to reduce Risk across the business


A fully developed Safety Management System can prove to be a significant driver to reduce the exposure to incidents and accidents, as well as acting as a performance improvement tool. To be effective we must develop delivery processes throughout the organisation to create safety awareness among all staff members. The essence of delivering SMS success is not just in defining our organisational safety system but in taking all necessary steps to effectively implementing it.

Sofema Aviation Services offers a range of EASA compliant vocational and regulatory training. For any comments or questions please email office@sassofia.com