SMS for Lufthansa Airlines

Lufthansa Airline is one of the leading airlines based in Germany. It was the first airline in the world to acquire the state of the earth aircraft, which is Airbus A380 (World’s Safest Airlines, 2013). This aircraft, which was operated by three, qualified and well-experienced pilots made a round flight from Berlin-London-Dubai-Narita-San Francisco and back to Berlin in a record time of seventeen hours. Similarly to other world-class airlines, Lufthansa Airlines also enjoys an enviable safety aviation record, and their Civil Aviation safety program was recognized as one of the best in the world by the International Civil Aviation Organization (World’s Safest Airlines, 2013). However, this airline cannot afford to maintain their status quo since there is a predicted increase in the air transportation, which may lead to a consequential increase and rise in the number of accidents rate. This is the reason why Lufthansa Airline and the German government have always strived to maintain a positive shift in regard to the accident rate by improving and maintaining their safety (World’s Safest Airlines, 2013). It was in the response to this challenge, that the Commercial Aviation, Business Branch, Manufacturing, and Aircraft maintenance Branch promulgated amendments to their Aviation Regulations Policy with the requirement of the SMS establishment in some given operations. The guidance stipulated in herein outlines the clarification in regards to the application and intent of the anticipated regulatory requirements (World’s Safest Airlines, 2013). It is aimed as a real-world guide for the development and implementation of a SMS within flight and maintenance operations.

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Airline SMS Definition

A SMS is defined as a comprehensive, systematic, and explicit process used in the management of safety risks that is integrated with the technical and operations systems as well as human resource and financial managements, for all operations that are related to air and the maintenance approved credentials (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2008). A Company’s SMS expounds how the company aims and plans how it will manage air safety and related issues as a vital part of the business management activities of the company (Safety Management Systems, n/d). Hence, SMS is like a business-like methodology to safety (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2008). It provides a baseline for the setting up of goals, planning, and the final performance measurements and evaluation. It is therefore, woven integrated into the fabric of the company, becoming the organizational culture in the way employees execute their tasks (Safety Management Systems, n/d). The golden rule and the guiding principle of SMS development and implementation in the aviation industry are the prevention of accidents occurrence, hence termed pro-active (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2008).

Components of SMS

In each and every component and sub-component of an SMS in which specific processes and procedures are necessary, flow charts or checklists are necessary to be developed in order to enhance the implementation (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014). These components and sub-components need also to be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is up-to-date ad its tasks and performance stay relevant to the organization. Defined processes and procedures that complement the implemented and managed policies also need to be clear and in place (Cacciabue,
Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014).

Below there are some of the essential components of a typical or basic SMS:


This is a statement that stipulates the company’s safety goals and includes the following:

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  • Should receive unwavering commitment from the top management level. This significantly supports the policy, having a fundamental priority that should be signed officially (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014).
  • Should contain a clear statement of objectives that indicates the safety principles and requirements that the organization uses in its measurements. They should meet the regulations of the safety authorities (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014).
  • It should promote a non-punitive culture in procedure of reporting that is termed a safety culture.
  • A policy should always be relevant in regards to the operations carried out in the organization (Safety Management Systems, n/d).

Responsibility and accountability

The key responsible and accountable person in regards to SMS is other accountable executive and management office. However, the above responsibility may be delegated to other parties as far as the implementation of the SMS (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014). The responsibilities regarding the safety of employees of an organization ought to be clearly defined and put in documentation. The figure below summarizes those ideas:

Flight safety program

The program include the following:

  • A responsible and qualified manager who can steer the company’s culture in terms of management and operational responsibilities (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014)
  • A safety flight plan, which expounds clearly on the structure, resources, responsibilities, processes, and philosophy to prevent accidents occurrence and to maximize of the safety operations (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014).
  • Well-thought processes in the establishment of safety goals and safety performance evaluation.

Accident prevention program

This is a preventive mechanism and measure, which entails:

  • An effective process of identifying operational hazards through the capturing and the analysis of the given information (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014).
  • A relevant mechanism that helps in the aircraft accident investigation and how the relevant regulatory bodies like governments can come in (Safety Management Systems, n/d).
  • A well-stipulated procedure on how new and viable actions can be implemented to prevent the occurrence of accidents (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014)
  • A well-documented process on how, who, and when periodic reviews should be carried out to ensure that the mission of flight accidents prevention is achieved.

Risk management program

Risk management is taken as the main idea behind the development and implementation of the SMS. It is inclusive of the three main pillars, which are following:

  • Identification of hazard, problem, or an occurrence: this is where there is a proactive process of collecting and analyzing data from the routine processes that helps in monitoring hazards (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014).
  • Risk assessment process: entails the thorough analysis of the hazards and their potential consequences (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014).
  • The procedure of scheming the recognized risk: this explains on the mitigation actions against the happening of the threat to avoid losses.

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Emergency program

The SMS should also incorporate in itself other contingency plans. This ensures that there are alternatives in case the situation demands during the state of emergency (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014). The contingency should also be exposed to regular reviews under the responsible and accounting person. The organization task of updating changes and communicating the changes of the response plan to all persons is key.

Inspections and audits

A consistent evaluation of the SMS is suggested and is under the charge of the responsible executive. This episodic review will guarantee that the SMS remains effective, efficient, and up-to-date. These reviews can be carried out by the organizational internal audit committee or carried out by an external person (Cacciabue, Cassani, Licata, Oddone & Ottomaniello, 2014).

Why Lufthansa will implement the systems successfully?

The strengths of the Lufthansa in the aviation industry include:

  • Good safety record since its aviation operation time;
  • Long history in civil aviation more than any other airline in Germany;
  • The German Berlin International Airport being one of the largest airports connecting Far West and the Far East countries including Africa.

Working of SMS

As previously defined, SMS is a set of integrated systems components to be a single complete system. It is, therefore, the interaction of these varied components or sub-systems that makes up the entire system (Javaux, 2002). Thus, a safety-management system is composed of different sets of practices, procedures, and beliefs for the sole purpose of monitoring and improving the state of safety exhibited in an organization. A feedback loop is, therefore, of an essence in this kind of system.

The phases are:

  • Phase 1: Safety concern, problem or hazard occurrence identification phase (Javaux, 2002)

This is where the hazard, an occurrence, concern, or a problem is identified. Consideration on what or who is at risk is evaluated and the decision how it supposed to be done is in the making. The key question is what can cause the problem and how? Who or what is at risk?

  • Phase 2: Reporting phase (Javaux, 2002)

This is where the identified risk is forwarded or is reported to the relevant departments and authorities. The leading question is what is wrong?

  • Phase 3: Analysis phase (Javaux, 2002)

This is the stage at which the reported problem is put into a mirror for a complete analysis. The key question in this stage is how can the problem be fixed?

  • Phase 4: Correction phase (Javaux, 2002)

This is where the best corrective measure identified amongst the many is implemented.

  • Phase 5: Evaluation phase (Javaux, 2002)

The implemented corrective measurement is then monitored and evaluated on its effectiveness and efficiency. The leading question in this case is did the implemented measurement work? If it worked, the stage moves to the documentation level. If not, the problem or occurrence reported is still re-analyzed with a huge possibility of it undergoing other corrective measure as well as another different evaluation mechanism.

  • Phase 6: Documentation phase (Javaux, 2002)

This is the last stage of the basic SMS process. This is where the problem resolved is documented for future reference.

The general elements of a good SMS

In core, a good SMS is capable of recognizing and capturing errors and devising ways, mechanisms, procedures, and processes of suppressing the identified errors to avoid them leading to occurrence of accidents. The general elements of a good SMS are as highlighted below:

  • Presence of an effective organization in a company or firm
  • The presence of clear policies
  • There also should exist a well-stipulated mechanism of carrying out audit and process of reviewing the SMS
  • There should be a systematic planning and approach within the company

Safety Management Cycle

Importance of SMS

The traditional and the previous safety management programmes and systems have been termed as having been reactive (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2011). This is a situation where accidents happened first and then investigations on what triggered them are launched. The investigations being aimed at preventing other accidents occurring in the near future (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2011). SMS were then developed to act as a proactive measure; this is where the system processes try to prevent an accident from happening in the first instance. The importance of SMS is not only directed as guarding and cushioning the company against mishaps, but also is of great importance in providing economic benefits in helping the organization (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2011):

  • In marketing the safety standards, as well as operation.
  • Guarding the organization and the company against the indirect and direct overheads of mishaps and incidents (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2011).
  • By improving the organizational way in which morale, communication, and productivity are exhibited (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia, 2011).
  • By ensuring that the responsibilities in regards to legalities in managing safety are met.

Personal Contribution and Conclusion

Indeed for any SMS to be successful, the following must be met:

  • The presence of good leadership and governance; effective communication, problem solving. A good leader will always lead as a champion in integrity related issues. Integrity is key and important for the leaders to ensure and observe the accountability in their powers and responsibilities during the offering of their services to ensure the success of SMS. Have a solid team in place. Dishonesty in a firm will be a forgotten issue.
  • Employees must undergo an effective training that needs to be undertaken to sensitize the employees on what they are expected as far as the SMS is concerned. They are to be trained on how the process and procedures work, their responsibilities, risks assessment, and risk management. This will help them become acquitted and remain up-to-date
  • The conduction of periodical reviews: this is because the world and the aviation industry are quite dynamic. New ideas and accidents come and happen. Reviews will ensure that those mishaps are identified and controlled prior to their happening. Reviewed SMS will then be in a position to gather for them as they happen.
  • Timely maintenance: This is in case there is need for the SMS to be maintained. It is a good management practice.

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