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The aviation industry and in particular air carriers, are faced with the task of complying with numerous standards and regulations required by the state regulatory/authorities such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as well as International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The Quality is paramount, the authorities require aviation organizations to implement and maintain a Quality System to monitor compliance with requirements which include standards and procedures to make sure that safe operational practices and continuous airworthiness are in place. The organizations need an interlocking framework with which to manage their Quality Management Systems. The Quality Assurance program is the main part of the quality system and aircraft operators must ensure operational practices are safe and aircraft are in an airworthy condition. Authorities require the conduct of internal and external audits to ensure the monitoring and review of the quality system.
On the other hand, Safety is the most important among all these regulatory organizations, both in process and in practice. ICAO has proposed a standard for member States that requires a State to have a safety program to achieve an acceptable level of safety in the operation of aircraft. This recommended Safety Management System (SMS) contains just safety elements, whereas we need an integrated system that encompasses: quality management system, environment management system, enterprise risk management, continuous airworthiness and safety management system.
In the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program, IATA aims to assess the operational management and control system of an airline with an emphasis on the Safety Management System (SMS). It is a condition of membership that airlines undergo the IOSA program. Therefore, the organization must establish a Safety Management System as well as Quality System. The safety and quality are placed firmly at the top of the value pyramid of most aviation companies dominating thoughts and actions, and underpinning the companyâ€™s commitment to customers and stakeholders.
The safety system and the quality system both ensure and support the safety and, effectiveness of aviation industry standards programs through the development and oversight of organizational safety and quality assurance policies and procedures. There are certainly common concepts and objectives in quality and safety systems: accident/incident prevention, organizational commitment, measuring and communication, satisfaction of customers and the requirement for continuous improvement.
On closer analysis, there are also areas of overlap, duplication and in some instances, conflict, between quality and safety systems which can lead to wasted effort if both are applied.
Despite the similarities acknowledged in the processes and techniques involved, the aims and basis of them is different, striving for safety and striving for quality are certainly not the same thing. Does a safety management system respond more effectively? Or do we need to combine theses systems together?
The safety management system provides a focus on safety and offers a realistic way forward at less cost and confusion. Safety is a great analogy for understanding quality and it relates entirely to the absolutes of quality management. But quality does not axiomatically result in safety.
Objectives and research questions
The aim of this research is first to review critically the quality system, safety management system and risk management system and find out what they precisely require, what their aims are, analyse their achievement methodology in detail, determine the advantage of an outcome objective and achievement, then propose an integrated quality, safety and risk management system to achieve one unique goal to cover all requirements. The role of top management and how to set up the system will be assumed to be critically important for safety or even for self-assessment, and this may be quite logical. The concept of the integrated quality, safety and risk management system, and further challenge and management responsibilities to establish the system will be introduced.
By enabling airlines to integrate quality, safety and risk management, airlines will meet the requirements common to multiple regulations which include regulatory authorities and other bodies (such as IATA) in the key areas of flight operations, maintenance and ground activities, as well as to enhance the improvement of the safety/quality and reduction of costs, training and resources. In integrating quality, safety and risk management systems, airlines can avoid overlap of functions, duplication and wasted time and resources.
Integrated risk management is of great importance and has great value. A given incident occurrence can have a far-reaching impact on multiple operating divisions. Each division would complete their own individual incident reports as it effects them, thereby creating a potential bottleneck in the process to determine the root cause of the problem and ultimately take actions to prevent a recurrence in a timely manner. How can this be rectified?
There are many factors that can contribute to continuous improvement in safety and quality, one of them is, process improvement. Well managed organizations often have extensive internal audit programs to continuously audit their own processes and procedures, in order to uncover any gap in their systems, streamline operations, assess the state of compliance and to gain efficiencies. How can the number of audits be reduced?
The following questions also can be considered:
Quality or safety? Thatâ€™s a question!
Why are there so many management systems? Do we need all of them?
Why do we need many parallel monitoring systems? Are they all necessary?
What are their purpose, aims and achievements?
Which of these systems should take precedence and monitor the others?
What are our expectations of these systems?
What are the parallel areas and tasks?
Why do we need to integrate them?
Whatâ€™s the benefit of integrated systems?
How can we integrate them?
Process control, product control, human error, identification hazard, eliminated risk; do they work all together and how?
Safety audit or quality audit - what are we really looking for?
How can we combine quality audit with safety audit?
Assuming safety and quality systems monitor each other, who will monitor a unique combined system if there is no third party? How and when is self monitoring effective?
How can we link the risk assessment to quality audits and safety inspection to identify areas in which preventive action is needed to mitigate risk as well as to ensure continuous airworthiness?
How do integrated systems improve the industry?
How to integrate external audit requirements into safety and quality processes?
Safety, similar to quality, is an emergent property of a system that is sometimes difficult to define, unlike more tangible characteristics such as profit, costs, or products. It cannot be touched or seen and, therefore, cannot be directly managed. Quality also is a less tangible property. Rather than being an absolute and objective measure of goodness, quality is relative to the requirements that are set for it. An excellent quality in one set of circumstances can be completely unacceptable in another. Therefore, if high quality is defined in terms of process or product characteristics that enhance safety, safety and quality are congruent.
Safety systems can be considered a type of quality system. A quality system is designed to consistently meet whatever quality objectives have been identified in a particular instance. Consistent quality may or may not be synonymous with high quality, because high quality may have an unacceptable cost in a particular context. However, unlike quality management systems that may be focused on financial objectives, customer satisfaction, or other goals, the safety management system is a quality system focused on regulatory oversight and safety risk management.
The safety management system and quality management system are complementary and must therefore work together to achieve the overall safety goals. The primary requirement for an SMS is to establish a management system that has the necessary processes and procedures in place such that operational safety is maintained at an acceptable level (safety management) and specified operational results are consistently achieved (quality management).
Integration will be achieved through unified goals, strategies, and outcomes. The strategies to achieve those goals will address risk management in a coordinated fashion, and the common desired outcome of managing risk to an acceptable level must remain the focus for all organizational elements and individuals.
Integration will be accomplished by:
Establishing a strong and continuously improving safety culture,
Verifying continuously that values, norms, and assumptions are consistent and compatible,
Identifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by the personnel to support the system,
Developing and providing the training at all levels needed to understand and implement the system,
Maintaining an effective communication process at all levels and between levels,
identifying and communicating common or related hazards, as well as ideas for managing the associated risk to acceptable levels,
identifying common elements of safety oversight standards, procedures, and analysis and avoiding duplication,
avoiding overlap, redundant data collection, or inspection processes to minimize the adverse impact on services or products and optimizing the resources usage,
integrate information system so that data and information flow vertically and horizontally,
Key components of an integrated system include quality assurance, Flight Safety via Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA), continuous airworthiness, Environmental, Occupational Safety and Health via the Environmental Management System (EMS), Safety Management System, Boeingâ€™s Maintenance Error Decision Aid (MEDA), auditing, risk management and internal evaluation programs.
In order to develop integrated Quality, safety and risk management system, we need to survey the existing systems separately, eliminate the parallel areas and tasks, and combine them in a unique system. Any conflict between safety and productivity can be eliminated by optimising the required workflow.
An integrated quality, safety and risk management system provides a closed loop process in recording and reporting on quality, environment, health and safety events within the system. It needs to prioritize and minimize the number of high-risk events by using the appropriate risk assessment model. In order to segregate and categorize events, a quantitative risk assessment will be used throughout the process to guiding decision making. It features a comprehensive corrective action and effectiveness check plan with risk mitigation history covering continuous airworthiness. Integrated modules and enterprise application integration will be surveyed to manage and measure quality and compliance processes and execute organizational change.
The research will be a holistic approach to addressing the key compliance needs of the organization at the departmental level, while providing a top-down view for management to address the most crucial events within the organization. Coordinating among operations, maintenance and ground activities across multiple departments will also be considered. Safety analysis methodology supports the development of risk assessment methodologies, with the inclusion of factors such as operational procedures and human factors, in operational and maintenance tasks for the purpose of safe operations and continued airworthiness.