SMS, Safety Culture, and the Four Pillars of Safety Applied to Airline Pilot Training: NextGen Demands to Improve Safety

SMS, Safety Culture, and the Four Pillars of Safety Applied to Airline Pilot Training: NextGen Demands to Improve Safety

Karlene Petitt (Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Seattle, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJASOT.2017070104

Abstract

The history of airline safety includes both FAA economic and safety measures that have grown over the years. This article provides a timeline of airline safety trends from crew resource management to safety management systems. Industry challenges are identified to include operational constraints, training challenges, economic concerns, and human factors to indicate a necessary paradigm shift from reactionary strategies toward proactive measures required by a safety culture—reporting culture, just culture, flexible culture, and learning culture. A safety culture is the foundation for safety management systems (SMS) mandated by the FAA for airline operations, to include the four pillars of safety: safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion. This article will identify how to integrate SMS, safety culture, and the four pillars of safety into the airline pilot training environment with cost effective strategies to improve safety within an SMS framework supported by a safety culture.
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The early years of aviation saw many safety challenges resulting in regulatory change due to economics, more so than safety; yet, eventually the FAA became a dual gatekeeper of both safety and economic protection (Adamski & Doyle, 2010; Gesell & Dempsey, 2011). The aviation industry expanded quickly and aircraft crashes were due, in part, to under-developed technology, the inability to avoid weather, and a paucity of ground support systems (Perrow, 1999). Early aircraft were unsteady, demanded continuous pilot input, and required unyielding attention due to unreliable external cues for navigation (Mosier, 2010). Aircraft technology evolved, and human factors specialists worked with engineering and flight crews to reduce cockpit workload. In the early 1970s CRM became the first regulatory mandate to deal with crew interpersonal and communication issues (Helmreich, Merritt, & Wilhelm, 1999).

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