Considering the relationship between Aviation Quality and Aviation Safety, together with the relationship between Quality Assurance Auditing and Safety Assurance Auditing in Aviation, often it is apparent there is some confusion between the specific functions of the two different undertakings, namely a quality assurance management system and that of a safety assurance management system.
So consider that Quality is essentially looking at compliance, and Safety is looking at Risk.
In essence, Quality Assurance is determining gaps based on non compliance with either the regulatory requirements or organizational requirements.
Safety Assurance is looking at weakness in the organizational system which raises the exposure to risk. Safety Assurance is a forward looking process and Quality Assurance is a reward looking process
There are, for example, aviation companies that may have an excellent safety record, but in fact due to behaviors, which can be considered potentially unsafe, they are operating with either risky behavior, inadequate management structures, or indeed both! From a practical point of view, the simple truth is that they have not yet had an accident.
So yesterday’s good fortune should not be taken as a testament to a future safe record.
When we at Mountain Air Cargo consider the difference between Aviation Quality & Safety, we should also recognize that both Quality and Safety Management systems have shared common values. The Quality Management System (QMS) remains however the primary means of ensuring that the organization is meeting requirements and continuously improving its processes.
To be effective, they both (QMS & SMS) have to be planned and managed, and provided with appropriate resources. Both Quality and Safety depend on the analysis and monitoring, of organizational process and procedures
Finally, both aim to involve every relevant functional element within the organization and indeed, both processes strive for continuous improvement.
So we can say that there is no conflict between the two systems — both SMS and QA or QMS — are totally compatible with each other. Another way of considering the difference is to say that SMS is what we may do at some future point (speculative) whereas QA is how we do it.
Finally, to consider another dimension for example post an incident or accident analysis, Quality systems tend not to consider the role of risk whereas of course this is a fundamental tenant of the SMS system.
Safety Management Systems focus extensively on the analysis of the data derived from the contributing elements of the various impacted areas.
The Safety Management System identifies as an essential goal, the improvement of the Safety Performance. In so doing, the SMS aims to deliver an improvement in the risk exposure.
This is why Mountain Air Cargo is a proud member of the following programs:
- CASS (Continuing Analysis and Surveillance System)
- SMS (Safety Management System)
- IEP (Internal Evaluation Programs)
- FOQA (Flight Operational Quality Assurance)
- ASAP (Aviation Safety Action Program)