Luis Mijares, Air Navigation Manager, explains SENASA’s role in Safety Management and how, from the mere perspective of regulatory compliance “surveillance”, the concept of “safety analysis and management” has evolved into a broader concept that has led to making aviation the safe means of transport that it is today. SENASA also has an important participation from different areas of the organization not only in safety management programs, such as the state PESO, but also contributes with its knowledge to the improvement of the operational safety in other sectors and other means of transport.
What is SENASA's role in the state aviation safety management environment and its contribution to the PESO program?
In a simple way, it could be said that SENASA provides highly specialized human resources and that they reinforce the safety supervision teams led by the Air Safety Authority. Although this is true, none of them is a “work alone part” but, all together work for the whole Safety Management System which, in the case of the Spanish Administration, is called the State Operational Safety Program (PESO in its Spanish acronym). This implies a broader vision than the "surveillance" since it means an evolution towards the concept of "Management".
The classic processes of Security Surveillance Systems in aviation (Regulation, Certification, Inspection, Investigation and Sanction Capacity) are very efficient and, throughout history, they enabled aviation to become the safest means of transport.
However, with the growing trend in air traffic (ignoring the situation experienced as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic) and the complexity of operations and aircrafts’ characteristics, it is necessary to tackle new initiatives that allow us to know what the “real” behaviour of the operation is, not only if the rules are followed (supervision), but whether the operation is being handled safely.
How is this evolution towards the concept of Operational Safety Management achieved?
Basically, the concept of management can be assimilated to that of decision-making and give priority to resources. Attempts to improve and maintain safety require a great deal of time, effort and money, yet no organization has unlimited resources to perform these functions. For this reason there is a constant need to prioritize and make decisions that affect safety. In a safety management system of these characteristics, decisions are not based solely on expert opinions, but on real information captured from the operational environment that helps to objectively support these decisions.
The concept of safety management is therefore based on the ability of organizations to collect real information, analyse it and feed it back into the safety surveillance and decision-making processes. Only this way, it will be possible to efficiently dimension and direct both the supervision of safety and the actions necessary for its improvement, including possible evolutions of the regulation itself.
Of course, we must be aware that this is not achieved immediately, but requires a cultural evolution within organizations, based on the disclosure, training and trust of all its members.
How is the key information for the development of an effective safety management system obtained and what does SENASA contribute in this regard?
This information is obtained from different existing sources inside and outside the organizations, which can be integrated, such as: results of audits and inspections, accident investigation, complaints and claims, economic information, event reports, etc.
Specifically, referring to the State Operational Safety Program (PESO) coordinated by the Air Safety Authority, we can say that SENASA provides excellent teams of professionals in all the elements that comprise it. At SENASA we have experts from different areas who are dedicated to inspection of air operators, Air Navigation and airports providers who investigate Accidents and Incidents for CIAIAC, who process claims, who receive a large number of safety events that feed complex databases, among other issues.
All this information is managed by SENASA for the Administration in a very efficient way thanks to the human team that has invaluable professional skills, attitudes, knowledge and experience.
Is this type of Safety Management only applicable at the national level?
Of course not, these concepts are in fact applicable, and even mandatory, for aviation service provider organizations, such as airlines, airports, Air Control Providers and so on. Therefore, each of them must have a Safety Management System which, in turn, feeds the State Operational Safety Program.
Apart from this, SENASA provides both training and consulting services to all types of organizations around the world. It collaborates with ICAO, EASA, Eurocontrol, and a multitude of national authorities from other States. Without a doubt, from a humble point of view, SENASA teams can feel proud of the recognition gained by all parties in the industry.
Precisely, this contributes to business development for SENASA and constantly opens new lines of collaboration both nationally and internationally. Furthermore, SENASA's experience has now been applied to sectors other than aeronautics, such as rail transport or cybersecurity. In fact, for a couple of years we have had teams of experts collaborating, for example, with the Spanish Railway Infrastructure Administrator (ADIF) in optimizing their Safety Management Systems and Data Governance.
Therefore, there are strong synergies that can be applicable to other management systems, concepts, processes, tools and, ultimately, the experience of our professionals.