August 8, 2011

Even in the best of times, it’s not easy to create an environment of trust in the workplace. Too many people worry that, should they step forward with concerns about a safety issue, they’ll be castigated or even fired. But a new video from NBAA, produced by the Association’s Safety Committee, aims to change that line of thinking, urging Members to create a “culture of safety.”

“The focus of this video really is on highlighting the value of a safety management culture within a flight department,” remarked Doug Carr, NBAA’s vice president for safety, security and regulation.

For some time, NBAA has pointed out the benefits of a Safety Management System (SMS) for aviation operations, of the kind that’s recommended in the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations, produced by the International Business Aviation Council. However, Carr pointed out, creating that culture is much more easily said than done.

“Having a Safety Management System in place is more than just having a binder on the wall with lots of paper in it that says ‘SMS,'” Carr said. “Key to making all of this investment in safety work is to have the… belief internally… that safety is paramount. We’re not going to subject people to penalties for reporting safety situations.”

Carr said such a penalty mind-set “really compromises safety and all the investment we have made in developing safety management systems and training our people. Everybody involved – from senior management all the way down through the flight department has to be committed to this. Otherwise, it’s not going to work.”

That is a process Carr believes could take months – or even years.

“A lot of times, folks just need to know where to start,” he said. “We’re hoping this video will be a good place for them to understand what [a safety culture] means, what it looks like, how to start the process. And then go from there to see where else can they make improvements and how else can they benefit from a safety culture.”