In the first two parts of this series, we recommended using this time to update your Emergency Response Plans, and refreshing or creating manuals you might not have yet. Our third recommendation is to not just move your manuals to a digital platform, but to start taking full advantage of all the benefits of a full digital SMS.
The recent health crisis has disrupted a significant portion of global travel. It is more crucial than ever to have manuals that are up to date to ensure flights are organized and executed as safely as possible.
Are your operations equipped to handle the COVID-19 pandemic and future health emergencies? Take our latest quiz and see how your safety management stacks up.
It’s an acronym bonanza: ASAP, ASIAS, and ASRS – how can you keep these safety reporting programs straight? Do you know which you should be using and why? Understanding these programs and when they apply can help take your safety culture to the next level.
By nature, safety is ingrained into our DNA in the aviation industry. But how do we ensure that we connect all the dots between good intentions and a consistently executed safety culture across the board? How can a safety officer gain full buy-in from their team?
Change Management goes beyond dress code policies, onboarding new employees or simply implementing new procedures – especially in aviation. So how do you ensure your flight operations department is ready for the inevitable changes it will face in the near and/or long term? You need to have a sound change management plan in place.
What is Change Management?
Change Management is a term used to describe the process for organizations to review all aspects of a potential change, develop an action plan to implement the change, and then execute the plan while mitigating risk. The basic change management process flow should include:
- Identification and assessment of a change and associated risks
- Development of a plan to implement a change and mitigate risks
- Implementation of the plan across the department
- Review and reassess the new level of risk of the department as a whole after the change
For business aviation, managing operational changes can range from a change in equipment, to bringing maintenance in-house, to revamping your home base. Additionally, it’s not just new stuff that fosters the need for a solid change management plan. It is also critical to have a process for your team to seamlessly follow when operational changes happen to existing protocols or procedures.
Existing operational changes can include shifts in your clients’ travel profiles or an airport implementing new apron protocols. Anything that can affect your operation.
It’s Time to Make Change Easier
For many years, change management was not a focal point for most operations, but during the past two years, its importance has become more appreciated. This is due in part to more and more operators adopting a Safety Management System (SMS) and realizing that change management is an integral part of SMS.
For business aviation pilots and flight departments, adopting change management procedures can be easier than for a commercial operator, since business and general aviation operators tend to have smaller, less complex operations. That’s good news, because it means that the implementation of a change management plan can be easier and faster.
In fact, it is critical for smaller operations to adopt a change management plan early on, as it can provide a sound foundation and ultimately one less thing to have to consider when an unexpected situation arises. Smaller departments or single-pilot operators have to juggle multiple responsibilities, unlike larger flight departments that may have more staff to whom they can distribute operational responsibilities. This makes having a change management system all the more important. But this doesn’t mean larger flight departments should neglect change management planning. They can also benefit from effective change management in order to help streamline the dissemination of procedural changes throughout the various departments.
In general, there is a growing list of drivers that can increase the need for proper change management. Whereas personnel changes, such as new hires, role changes or loss of personnel along with aircraft changes were often the traditional focus of change management, as flight departments formalize, new factors have become equally important. Changes to flight profiles, a change of base or hangar, any changes at familiar airport destinations, changes with maintenance, changes with scheduling / administrative software, changes to passengers, new passengers, pets, children, cargo, etc. can all trigger a need for an effective change management process.
How to Start the Change Management Process
Operational changes will often go deeper than just superficial procedural alterations. They may impact everyone in your department along with your Safety Management System (SMS), Operations Manuals, procedures, and risk profiles. There is a lot to consider during the first step of the process. Here are a few questions you can start with:
- What is the nature of the change itself? Is this an isolated, one-off or broad, systemic change?
- What are the possible risks/hazards associated with the change?
- Will it impact training or other administrative tasks?
- Will there be any impact to your hangar environment or ground handling operations?
- What effects will the change have on scheduling and dispatching?
- Will it affect restrictions on duties or duty times?
- What operating, personnel, or pilot experience restrictions should be considered? (regulatory and company imposed)
- Are there new regulatory requirements that the department needs to be made aware of (including State of Registry, State of Operations, and local governing bodies)?
- Will the change affect your passengers?
- How will your team feel about the change?
Establishing a change management procedure will give your team and fellow managers a solid framework for making change easier to implement. A little bit of planning can save a lot of grief and potential risk introduction later on.
Have questions or need help with change management? AviationManuals can provide you with a process and web based form that easily guides you through the different steps you have to take every time change happens. Contact our experts today.
Does your organization set safety goals? There may not be any regulatory consequences if you don’t, but setting safety goals is a key part of a Safety Management System along with having a continuous improvement process. Goal setting can be a great way to improve your safety culture and bring visibility to the process. But where do you start? How should goals be formulated and how do they fit into an overall SMS?
An SMS, especially when paired with SMS software, should provide you with a way to track a range of information and occurrences in your operation, allowing you to identify and track recurring trends. Such insight enables you to determine which improvements are needed and how you can mitigate risks.
Flight operations are all different. Yet most Risk Assessment Tools (RAT) treat all operators the same. For a RAT to be effective and accurately capture your risk levels, you must tailor it to your operation and evaluate a greater number custom factors.
There are key elements items operators should ensure they have covered before taking off to Europe. Non-European Union (EU)-registered aircraft operators are subject to SAFA (Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft) ramp inspections when operating in the EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, along with any state with which the European Aviation Safety Administration (EASA) has a working arrangement on SAFA. The biggest issues generally occur when inspectors come to the plane and the crew is not prepared. To avoid unnecessary complications, we are highlighting some key items you should be prepared to be able to show:
International Operations Manual
Operators should have an up-to-date International Operations Manual (IOM) to ensure they are conforming to current required procedures and industry best practices when operating across the Atlantic and within Europe. An IOM should include procedures for North Atlantic (NAT HLA), RVSM, PBN (RNP/RNAV), and, if equipped, Data Link procedures. For operations within Europe, the IOM should also include procedures for P-RNAV and B-RNAV, which covers RNAV operations in the enroute and terminal areas within Europe.
Operators should be aware that LOAs for each of these Special Areas of Operation are required, regardless of where the aircraft is based. The LOA must be issued with the name of the entity with operational control of the aircraft. In a case where more than one entity has operational control, separate LOAs must be obtained
Even though there are still ongoing discussions between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European authorities, it is critical to note that FAA approval does not ensure international compliance when it comes to Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL), so we recommend erring on the side of caution for your trip.
One of the most important clarifications that operators must understand today is that it is no longer acceptable to use your MMEL as your MEL. Because an MEL is developed specifically for your aircraft, your fleet and your company, many European inspectors have now made it clear that they require an MEL.
This is because the MMEL does not contain the specific procedures or regulations that crews must follow. Additionally, EASA’s focus on performance-based standards included in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Annex 6, Part 2, Chapter 2.5 requires operators to have information relevant to the airplanes required communication, navigation or communication specification capabilities included in the MEL. This standard requires the operator to take a broader view of specific equipment and its relationship to other systems and performance requirements.
Part-NCC Must be a Part of Your Pre-flight Arsenal
If you are an operator that either has an operating base in Europe or one outside any EASA country, then you also need to strongly look how you may fall under Part-NCC requirements. If you operate an aircraft registered in an EASA member state, or if your aircraft is registered in another country but your principal trip or regular business is to an EASA member state, your operations will be subject to Part-NCC.
As a business jet operator executing flight activities to Europe, you should prior to your trip verify at a minimum:
- If you are subject to Part-NCC and, if in doubt, get a ruling from the competent authorities.
- If you are subject to Part-NCC, determine which entity will be the operator under Part-NCC.
- Start the compliance process with Part-NCC and apply for the specific approvals by the competent authority.
- Declare the new activity and submit relevant documentations to the competent authority.
An SMS Program is Critical for Your Travel
You should also be prepared to demonstrate you have a Safety Management Systems (SMS) program in place and that it clearly outlines the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) your flight crew executes. An SOP or a proper operations manual provides crews with the step-by-step guide to effectively and safely carry out operations. Many accidents occur because of the operating environments and individual operator behavior – the “Human Factor” – in the aviation community. Such causal factors of accidents aren’t common to all operators, but they must be examined with methods that are specific to the individual operator’s situation.
Specifically, one of the defining characteristics of an SMS is its emphasis on risk management within an operation. It provides inspectors with the ability to better see the relation between the common risk factors that are addressed by traditional aviation regulations and those that are more situational. ICAO Introduced requirements related to SMS back in 2009. It is important to note that EASA compliance is set to strengthen traditional risk control practices and ensure safety risks are managed in a systematic way – so be prepared prior to your trip.
All of the documentation and procedures discussed are critical elements for any flight plan, but essential for travel to the EU. Flight operators should be able to demonstrate all of these are in place in the event of a ramp check. Contact AviationManuals if you have any questions or if you would like additional information.
Mobile technology has changed how we work and collaborate in nearly every industry. Aviation is no exception. Modern-day pilots are able to complete essential flight tasks, streamline processes, execute tasks more quickly, and mitigate risks… all with a handheld device.
A digital Safety Management System (SMS) program brings a more user-friendly safety experience to flight departments and the pilot population at large (professional or hobby). Expanding SMS from formal, web-based platforms to a mobile interface is a desirable and achievable goal.