Research Projects

Effective Practices in Expanding SMS Airport Wide

Assigned to Erik Bullard
Last Edited by Erik Bullard

Conduct research and synthesize the practices of airports and other industries on the extension of safety management system processes across the organization in efforts to maximize the effectiveness, understanding and efficiency of safety management.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

The systematic approach to improving safety performance in organizations, commonly known as safety management systems (SMS), is expanding within the aviation industry. Early airport adopters are implementing SMS and realizing positive outcomes as the processes are accepted. Draft guidance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for airport SMS has focused on implementing SMS in the airside environment. This makes some sense in that the highest risk airport operations take place outside of the terminal areas; and other safety guidance, like OSHA requirements, generally guide safety practices in other areas of the airport. However, SMS processes are as applicable to the landside environment, and some early airport SMS are being implemented airport wide. In many cases, the landside operations are more complex and hazardous than the activities on aircraft ramps. Managing the risks faced by airports related to activities in parking areas, ground transportation (to include providers such as Uber and Lyft), and the movement of people about the terminal is challenging. The sharing of effective practices for implementing SMS across all airport lines of business, and integrating airside safety programs and processes with those typically focused landside would benefit airports in the beginning stages of SMS development.
This research would explore the ways airports with organization-wide SMS instituted their initiatives; what policy changes were necessary, what processes required modification, and the means to achieve acceptance. This research could also look to other industries that integrate multiple stakeholders under comprehensive safety approaches in order to capture practices that could be used successfully at airports.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

A report on airport and other industry practices on the extension of organization wide safety management system processes to maximize effectiveness, understanding and efficiency of safety management. Identify what policy changes were necessary, what processes had to modified and the means to achieve acceptance

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Idea No. 350