Treat Safety As a Core Value, Not Just As a Priority

 - May 13, 2013, 2:45 PM
Merlin Preuss, the Canadian Business Aviation Association’s vice president of government and legislative affairs, believes operators should look at safety from a new perspective.

It’s wrong to label safety a priority, according to Merlin Preuss, vice president of government and legislative affairs for the Canadian Business Aviation Association. “That’s because it’s much too easy to change priorities as the world evolves,” he told last month’s Business Aviation Safety Seminar in Montreal (BASS).

“Safety should be a core value for every business aviation operation, not just a priority,” he said. “Safety is good for business. It’s a cliché but it’s true.”

But that doesn’t mean a one-size-fits-all approach to safety, in Preuss’s view. For example, a safety management system (SMS) “must be scaled to the flight department’s size and complexity or the safety benefit won’t justify the cost. The current crop of SMS systems is too complicated.” He also believes the term safety risk management is a better moniker than SMS. “I’m staying away from mentioning SMS [these days] because that acronym has become synonymous with inappropriate overhead and regulatory burdens that would fail any cost-benefit analysis,” said Preuss. “And SMS was never designed to fail a cost-benefit analysis.”

Once an organization becomes serious about risk avoidance, Preuss says a system need not be onerous to build and operate. Realistically a manager need only “look at the problem, then fix the problem, then make sure it really did get fixed and lastly write it all down.” Put another way, he concluded, “Look at what’s costing money. Find out why and then formalize it a bit and you’ll have something concrete. How each operator then handles this knowledge–with a large preformed SMS or a computer spreadsheet–is up to them.”