Military News

Monday, April 06, 2015

ANG Safety Models Airlines “Just Culture” Programs

by Dan Polanosky
ANG Safety Office

4/3/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- At the invitation of the Air National Guard Director of Safety, representatives from United Airlines recently visited the ANG Readiness Center.

The purpose of their visit was to share best practices and recent innovations related to the carrier's Safety Management System and Aviation Safety Action Program, both of which are based on the notion of "just culture" safety reporting.

Lt Col Dave Paulsgrove, a United Airlines pilot currently on military leave as he serves with the Air National Guard safety directorate, coordinated the visit. Paulsgrove serves as manager of the ANG's proactive flight safety programs, which include SMS and ASAP, among others. This visit by United Airlines officials comes on the heels of a recent ANG Safety visit to American Airlines to discuss implementation of similar program there.

Like many ANG pilots who pull double duty as commercial pilots, Paulsgrove has witnessed the positive safety impact of an effective ASAP and was a vocal proponent of bringing SMS to the Air Force as well.

"The opportunity to bring together both sides of my aviation career, military and civilian, in the name of safety is definitely a career highlight." said Paulsgrove.

United Airlines boasts an industry-leading, fully matured Safety Management System that directly led to fewer safety mishaps.  Like many airlines, United instituted SMS following a mandate by the Federal Aviation Administration for scheduled air carriers to adopt the program.  Recently, the United States Air Force followed suit.

"ANG airmen have unmatched private sector connections due to their parallel civilian/military career tracks." said Col Edward Vaughan, Director of Safety. "This remains a largely untapped resource for the Air Force.  Leveraging those unique connections in forums like this helps position the ANG at the leading edge of Air Force safety practice."

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the goal of an SMS is to improve safety by addressing underlying organizational issues that may result in accidents or incidents. 

United officials shared ways to launch an SMS program.  They explained that a mature SMS includes an organization-wide safety policy; formal methods for proactively identifying hazards, controlling, and continually assessing risk; and promotion of a safety culture.

"Safety promotion is a crucial part of an SMS." said Paulsgrove. "This helps create a Just Culture philosophy that encourages the reporting of threats and errors by front line employees without the fear of punishment or criticism."

As a part of Just Culture, United Airlines established an industry-leading Aviation Safety Action Program, which touches every employee division and is only one of three U.S. airlines that have a fully functional Ground Safety Action Program.

The ANG operates more than16 aircraft types, ranging from the Air Force F-22 Raptor to C-17 Loadmaster III, and Remotely Piloted Aircraft, there is a pressing requirement to employ such a program across all ANG operated aircraft, as well as non-flying missions. Likewise, it is critical to employ the expertise of civilian field experts to ensure an effective program is implemented.

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