In my last logbook, we dealt with the topics of crisis management and recovery, i.e. rather with the re-active measures in the event of a disruption. Today my logbook is about the pro-active aspects of a functioning safety management.

If you think safety is expensive, wait and see the accident! In aviation, the price of an accident is very often paid. Most of them cost many lives. In the early days of commercial aviation, the rate was around 12 fatal accidents per million aircraft movements. In 2019 that rate was 0.11. So we can rightly say that safety on board has been continuously improved over the past few decades.

But how was that done? Because those responsible have realized that the iceberg principle prevails in this environment. The tip of the iceberg is the accident. But underneath, well hidden under the surface of the water, a multitude of mistakes happen every day. By trying to prevent these mistakes, the chance of an accident can be dramatically reduced.

The proactivity in this is evident. Today, most airlines actually live a very good and open safety culture within an implemented SMS (Safety Management System).

If you know where you are, you can be where you want!

It was my first flight instructor who said this defining sentence to me. At first I interpreted this in terms of pure navigation in small aircraft. Today I know that this one sentence says a lot more. It is basically about knowing my environment, my structures, but also my personality exactly, in order to be able to act safely. This is also reflected in # clearedtoland core point # 6 “Focus on your horizon”.

For airlines this means that the operational risks of flight operations must be precisely known in order to be able to operate an effective risk management. This is achieved on the one hand with familiar tools such as audits, but also with well-established reporting systems.

Another important aspect is flight data monitoring. Every single flight and its parameters are statistically evaluated in order to identify trends at an early stage and to start possible counter-campaigns.

The crews are trained intensively in CRM (Crew Resource Management) in order to strengthen the soft skills relating to communication, leadership and cooperation.

Anyone who thinks that this would only work in aviation is mistaken. The basics of an SMS can be implemented in almost all industries and branches. Those who work proactively to ensure that mistakes do not lead to accidents in the first place will be more successful in the long run. Because: Safety isn’t expensive, it’s priceless!

Kerstin Mumenthaler