How to improve your safety management systems


Jesús Romero-Hernandez, ENAIRE Safety & Security Manager and Vice-Chair of the CANSO Europe Safety Group (CESAF), explores how the latest CANSO toolkits can help to improve ANSP safety management systems (SMS). 

The world of aviation is constantly changing and so must our processes and practices. Safety is a top priority for aviation and through CANSO, the ATM industry is improving performance worldwide. CANSO’s latest guidance helps air navigation service providers (ANSP) evolve their safety management systems (SMS) and improve operations.

CANSO has just released two new ANSP toolkits to help boost ANSP safety performance. The Normal Operations Monitoring Toolbox and Incident Investigations Toolbox are the result of close collaboration between CANSO member ANSPs, sharing their best practices, common concerns, challenges, issues, and examining new and existing methods and approaches. The toolboxes gather all the current knowledge, practices and innovations, and provide a very useful set of tools and ideas for SMS development.

The toolboxes correspond to critical SMS mechanisms and have been tailored to meet not only the needs of safety directors but in particular those on the front line of operations, stakeholders and SMS key players (investigators, safety risk analysts).

Understanding everyday work in safe operations

Evolving regulatory targets and fluctuating traffic levels challenge safety management methodologies. Extreme scenarios like the recent dramatic traffic reduction caused by the pandemic heavily distort operations, and create a completely different context where safety issues may arise.

Regardless the context, complex systems have an inherent adaptability to changing context and demands, modulated by technological resources, procedures, human performance and behaviour. And the information this generates is vital.

Normal operations management (NOM) allows safety and operations managers to understand ATM systems and identify risk by analysis data. It is a scalable and highly adaptable safety tool, providing not only information and new methods for analysing it, but also a cultural framework to help create a positive mindset towards safety. Afterall, safety is no longer understood as the degree to which an incident rate is reduced but as how system elements adapt their performance to actively avoid bad outcomes.

The Normal Operations Monitoring Toolbox showcases the benefits NOM and offers advice for implementing and managing these processes, based on various ANSP’s experiences.

Evolving  good investigation processes

In addition to monitoring everyday performance, CANSO’s Incident Investigations Toolbox brings together different methods and best practices for the incident investigation process.

The toolbox seeks to summarise worldwide common and specific practices at each stage of the process. To that end, it includes a compilation of practical approaches and tools for occurrence reporting, data collection, investigation analysis, recommendations, human factors review, monitoring phase, etc. Each stage is described, including an identification of the applicable pieces of regulation, before gathering the description of tools and best practices.

In addition, the latest CANSO guidance is fundamental for supporting the development of a compliance process and, at the same time, provides ideas for the evolution of your safety management system.

Continuing the journey

The latest toolboxes from CANSO are a vital stepping stone in our journey to an ever more efficient, adaptable and safe global air transport system.

They are also part of an evolutionary process, which will change and grow as the industry emerges into a new era. This means the industry must continue to work together to solve everyday challenges and build resilience for the future.

CANSO provides an important platform to facilitate this, and will continue to help navigate the industry’s new future, embracing expertise and experience it has among its membership and from across the industry.

Safety Europe