December 15, 2016


A view by Steve Bentley Aviation Consultant & MD of Sofema Aviation Services (SAS)

Having a job which brings me into contact with many aviation professionals (during 2017 SAS expects more than 3000 delegates on its training courses) – It becomes possible to an unofficial understanding regarding the effectiveness of SMS within your organisation. A disproportionate number are unfortunately underperforming – The question is Why?

1/ Lack of Manpower Commitment

The first reason is related to manpower commitment please note this is not the same as senior management commitment

Have you established how many man hours of labour is required to fulfill all the roles which are required in your organisation?

Without such a detailed understand how do you know you have correctly resourced the SMS process correctly?

2/ Documentation Review

When did you last review the SMS documentation and Manual for effectiveness one example (and not untypical) has never reviewed the documentation in the 2 plus years following implementation.

Consider that it is most unlikely that all elements of the system are performing correctly but without a review how can we determine where updates, modifications or other changes may be required – again the lack of a formal and structured review is often related to manpower constraints.

3/ Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

The Mitigation development process is one of the pivotal elements of a successful SMS – how visible is this in your organisation.

Is there a company standard which provides for a uniform approach to the need to manage risks across the business.

Are their trained and competent Risk Assessors available within the business? If so how are they trained to work with a company standard! (Areas of expertise should be related to Flight Operations, Ground Operations and Maintenance Operations.)

How are we measuring the effectiveness of the process and how many mitigations across the business have been recommended and implemented in each business area ? does it reflect the actuality of the need as perceived by the Safety Review Board ?

4/ Management of Change

How effective is the management of change process? Typically evidenced by the amount of documentation which is being assessed as part of the routine changes taking place within the organisation.

Much of the low level activity should be quickly and efficiently assessed for SMS related impact.

5/ How developed is your Risk Register?

The risk register is a key SMS and management tool, however many companies are still to complete the Risk Register in its basic form – let alone to develop and “Polish”

The risk register should be an organisational living document, moreover the development and maintenance of the risk register is without doubt an effective measure of the extent of understanding and implementation within your SMS.

6/ How visible and viable is your training program?

Measuring the effectiveness of your training program is an essential tool in assessing the “reach” of the SMS

Most SMS typically require employees to identify hazards but often they are not familiar with the difference between Hazards and Risk and for that matter the difference between Quality Assurance and Safety Assurance (from the perspective of EASA)

Next Steps

Sofema Aviation Services offers an SMS Kickstarter Program consisting of Gap Analysis, Safety Survey, Risk Register and Documentation Support and Training for Trainers for details please email


Assessment, Risk, SMS