On Friday, December 4, the management department welcomed guest speakers from JetBlue. Vice President and Chief Safety Officer John Allen along with Director of Ground Safety Christopher Sangiovanni spoke about the importance of Safety Management Systems (SMS) to Vaughn’s students, faculty and staff. The speakers were introduced by the Eastern Region Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, Carmine Gallo.

Allen focused on the FAA’s new SMS policy change and compliance philosophy. According to Allen, the FAA’s safety system is based on, and dependent upon, voluntary compliance with regulatory standards. “In order to improve safety we need to move from a reactive and forensic approach to problems to a risk-based and predictive model where we look for systemic flaws and identify ways to fix them.”

Sangiovanni added to the SMS information delivered by Allen by reviewing a brief history of aviation safety and examining real-life case studies with the audience. He noted that many times the first reaction to a problem is to blame someone for it and have that person fired as the solution without investigating all the facts. But according to Sangiovanni, that is not the best course of action. “We need to remove emotion from the situation and move to a risk-based approach to everything. Many factors, including human error, can contribute to accidents, but we want to overcome human error with SMS and that can only work by developing a culture where people are comfortable admitting mistakes and reporting problems,” he noted.

Both speakers agreed on the importance of fostering an open and transparent exchange of data, supported by an established safety culture to ensure both compliance with regulations and the identification of hazards and management of risk.

“The ultimate goal in SMS is to work together to identify risk and reduce risk to the lowest possible level, or to an acceptable level,” concluded Sangiovanni.

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John Allen (left) and Christopher Sangiovanni (right) discuss safety management systems.