Introducing a MEMS Reporting Culture within a Safety System Framework

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Sofema Aviation Services ( considers the challenges to be found during the implementation & delivery of an effective Maintenance Error Management System (MEMS) within an EASA Part 145 Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO)

Tensions between the desire to ensure safety behaviours and the organisations economic objectives (Production versus Protection) deliver real challenges which have a direct bearing on safety culture.

What is an Aviation Maintenance Safety Culture?

a) Safety Culture is how the concept of safety is perceived, valued and prioritised within an organisation.
b) Safety Culture reflects the real commitment to safety at all levels in the organisation.
c) Safety Culture refers to the “embedded practice” of Safety Behaviour by the individual within the organisation regardless of any oversight.
d) Safety Culture is built on a framework of individual and organisational belief regarding the importance of safety, including any perception of peer and management “buy in” to the concept of safety as a priority.

How Important is Safety Culture?

Safety Culture directly impacts Safety Performance.

Any willingness to engage with “unsafe” decisions (even when the imagined risk is believed to be small) can lead to negative outcomes, often in ways which were not envisioned.

An effective Safety Management System (SMS) is “Top Down” approach which requires a fully engaged leadership team. Whilst the SMS exists separately to the concept of Safety Culture behaviour, SMS and Safety Culture should go hand in hand.

Delivering an Acceptable Safety Performance

To achieve an acceptable level of safety performance requires an active “fully engaged” SMS as well as a healthy safety culture.

The challenge is to remain vigilant, we usually find that significant incidents and accidents occur only rarely and are typically found to be complex with multiple causes.

To deliver the strongest SMS will require the leadership team to unambiguously align safety behaviour and top down promotion with the company's commercial interests.

The Problem of “Under Reporting”

The challenge of under-reporting permeates throughout the aviation system. The reasons for under reporting may be due to lack of trust or confidence in a “Just Culture” reporting environment, with fears of recrimination or even prosecution!

The importance of the engagement of the leadership team together with the ability of the Quality Management System (QMS) and Safety Management System (SMS) to support the leadership team with the Data to fully understand the exposures (What works well and where we are under delivering).

Building a Strong Safety Culture

a) Define role related safety responsibilities across the business including policies, objectives and plans for the safety culture.
b) The leadership team must share the organisations safety vision, as well as  a common approach to goals and objectives related to the delivery of an effective safety culture.
c) Accountability is important we should hold everyone within the organisation accountable for being visibly involved in the SMS, especially the leadership team.
d) Build a positive reporting culture where people are comfortable to engage with the system at all levels.

Note this should lead to an increase in incidents, which is an indicator of previous under reporting.

e) Ensure the appropriate competence within the investigation role – effective analysis is critical to ensure investigations are conducted in a way which identifies direct causes, contributing causes and root causes related to accidents and incidents.
f) Ensure sufficient focus on building trust and share the good news, strong positive communications will provide the whole team with an incentive to continue 

Sofema Aviation Services (SAS) and our Sister Company SofemaOnline (SOL) offer EASA compliant regulatory training including Human Factors and Maintenance Error Management System in company and online training - for details please see or email and

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Tagged in: AMO EASA MEMS Part 145 Safety