An Ounce of Prevention... SMS Implementation Update

by Cliff Marshall, Technical Program Manager, Technical Program Evaluation and Co-ordination, Standards, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

This column is the first in a series of articles to inform the reader on various aspects of safety management systems (SMS). The old adage “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure” really captures the essence of SMS. If we can prevent or decrease the incidence of unsafe acts through consideration of procedures, processes, and human and organizational factors, we will improve safety and proactively address safety concerns. This series of articles will explore the role of SMS and highlight best practices by using different information sources, including industry.

This first article has been designed to familiarize the reader with where we are now and where we are going. Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) is applying a four-phased approach to SMS implementation. Currently, large air carriers and associated maintenance organizations are the only certificate holders to have completed all four implementation phases. These organizations are now having their SMS assessed by TCCA. This assessment will determine not only regulatory compliance but also SMS effectiveness.

In addition, Group One airports (international) and air traffic service providers are entering phase three of their implementation. Phase three requires that these groups record and utilize relevant documented policies and procedures for proactive processes and training for personnel assigned SMS duties.

Group Two airports are entering phase two. At this stage, they are required to document and implement policies and procedures for reactive reporting, investigation techniques, risk management, and training for personnel assigned SMS duties relevant to these processes.

By 2015, all certificate holders will have completed SMS implementation. The next segments of the Canadian aviation community scheduled to adopt SMS are the remaining maintenance organizations, commuter operators, air taxi operators, and aerial work operators. This list represents a sizable number of organizations that are watching closely for the publication of their respective SMS regulations. TCCA is monitoring the ongoing assessments of large carriers and their associated maintenance organizations to gain additional information that will assist in planning implementation activities for this next group. Based on this information and feedback from front-line employees, TCCA is adjusting the SMS implementation schedule and refining the project plan and effective dates accordingly. Flight training units (FTU) and manufacturers will follow the aforementioned organizations, leaving only the heliports, water airports, and aircraft certification groups to enter the SMS world.

TCCA has implemented an SMS regulatory framework over a relatively brief period. It should be noted that SMS implementation is being conducted globally because the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has mandated that its member states implement SMS regulations. An organization’s culture shift from reactive to proactive hazard-identification and risk-mitigation methodology may seem daunting. However, some industry groups that have implemented SMS are already reporting that this new requirement makes good business sense. A safe company attracts more clients, which equates to success. The competitive marketplace encourages other organizations to follow suit. This positive attitude is gaining attention and respect.

For additional information, including the implementation schedule and guidance material, please visit TCCA’s SMS homepage at The next “dose” of An Ounce of Prevention… will discuss performance measurement in an SMS context.

Important reminder: Aviation Document Booklet

The deadline for holders of air traffic controller licences, flight engineer licences, private pilot licences, commercial pilot licences, or airline transport pilot licences to have received the new Aviation Document Booklet has been extended to June 30, 2010. For other licences and permits, the deadline remains December 31, 2010. For more information, contact a regional Transport Canada licensing office.


Flight Service Information Management System Implemented at Flight Information Centres

by Ann Lindeis, Manager, Safety Management Planning and Analysis, NAV CANADA

FIMS provides information and functionality for flight service specialists to deliver services associated with flight planning, VFR alerting, weather briefing, flight information service en route (FISE), and aeronautical information (NOTAMs). FIMS is an integrated system that allows for the centralization of flight information while providing each specialist with access to the information necessary to perform pre-flight, en-route, VFR alerting, and communication searches.

Customer benefits
The introduction of FIMS improves service delivery from FICs by providing the specialist with the added functionality needed to retrieve and display weather and aeronautical information, and also by supporting an automated environment for flight-planning and alerting services.

FIMS automates the sorting and display of information in a user-friendly interface, specifically designed for each FIC operation. Specialists can easily access data, provide information or update flight data based on the pilot’s requirement.

FIMS allows each FIC to organize the information presented to the specialist based on the services provided, meaning that each FIC configures FIMS to meet the needs of the aviation community. An example of this is the North Bay FIC, which provides services in northern Canada. Its FIMS is designed to support flights requiring co-ordination with the Department of National Defence for Canadian air defence identification zone (CADIZ) identification.

Quality assurance
Entered and received flight-plan data and NOTAMs are subject to a high degree of data validation. Improved data means better information within all NAV CANADA aeronautical systems for use by pilots, specialists, and controllers. With this high degree of data validation and quality assurance incorporated into FIMS, pilots are assured that the information received from the specialist will enhance the safe planning and completion of their flight.

FIMS incorporates various validation requirements associated with flight-plan messages, NOTAM formatting, and other types of messages to assist the specialist in completing information fields as required. If information that FIMS cannot validate is received or entered, a specialist is alerted via an alarm message indicating that a specific field cannot be validated or may be incomplete.

Better, faster access to data
FIMS simplifies routine tasks such as entering and updating NOTAMs and flight plans. Specialists can access existing information and can modify and process it, rather than having to enter tombstone information each time. Improved weather data and NOTAM recall functions allow for more efficient pilot briefings. For example, a specialist can enter a flight route and the system automatically brings up the weather and NOTAMs required to brief the pilot. Because FIMS requires less manual data input, service to the aviation community is improved.

Technical advantages
NAV CANADA developed and now maintains FIMS in-house. The system operates on a Linux-based platform, using a modern, scalable hardware platform that also allows for the addition of software applications and integration with other NAV CANADA systems. The stability and reliability of FIMS ensures that information is available from the FICs for pilots to plan and complete a safe flight.

The need for a modern, scalable alpha-numeric weather, flight-planning, and aeronautical-information system was identified in the FIC Project. NAV CANADA created the FICs and has now implemented FIMS to meet the requirements of providing quality information to pilots at the pre-flight and en-route phases of flight, thereby ensuring that information necessary for a safe flight is available to pilots.

The First Defence: Effective Air Traffic Services-Pilot Communication

As part of the effort to increase awareness of the risks associated with non-standard communication, the Air Traffic Services-Pilot Communications Working Group has developed an awareness campaign called First Defence.

Watch The First Defence: Effective Air Traffic Services-Pilot Communication
video at

Canadian Owners and Pilots Association

COPA Corner: Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) in Canada

by Kevin Psutka, President and CEO, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association

Bob Grant’s article “I’ll just sneak through here…they’ll never see me if I stay low”, published in Aviation Safety Letter (ASL) 3/2009, reminded us all of the need to know the interception signals. This condensed version of a previous editorial in COPA Flight magazine explains how TFRs are developed. This hindsight is useful to understand the TFRs that will be issued for the upcoming Olympics and G8 Summit. —Ed.

Temporary flight restrictions (TFR) are commonplace in the U.S. They cover everything from short-term pop-up TFRs such as for sporting events, to extensive ones such as the permanent Washington, D.C., no-fly zone that effectively extends out to 60 NM. Canada is more reasonable, but we have seen several TFRs, including: the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alta., a visit by President George Bush to Ottawa, a TFR spillover into Canada when President Bush attended a baseball game in Detroit, Mich., the G7 Summit in Montebello, Que., the Francophonie Summit in Quebec City and, most recently, President Barack Obama’s Ottawa visit.

There are two more TFRs in the works for 2010. Firstly, the Winter Olympics will cause various restrictions, from the need to file a flight plan and squawk a discrete code to a complete prohibition on any flying in certain areas. The affected airspace will extend 30 NM around Vancouver Airport and Whistler Resort. Our sector of aviation will likely be affected by significant restrictions or prohibitions from January 29 to March 24, 2010—from before the Olympics begin until after the Paralympics have concluded.

The second TFR in the works is for the G8 Summit being held at the Deerhurst Resort in Ontario (CDH1) from June 25 to 27, 2010. This TFR will likely be similar to the one for Kananaskis—which extended 80 NM—and could reach down to the very busy Toronto area. It is important to note that the no-fly zone will affect a significant number of floatplanes based at several lakes in the area.

Determining the size and duration of an airspace restriction is a complicated process involving several government agencies. Normally, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is tasked with overall security and relies on input from the Department of National Defence, Transport Canada, and NAV CANADA to develop a plan.

The authorities have learned from past events that it is also necessary to consult with those affected by the restrictions. Historically, relying on the NOTAM system alone has been insufficient to ensure that everyone knows about and understands the restrictions. Representatives from associations and industry have a role to play in developing the restrictions and disseminating information. To the greatest extent possible, COPA has been involved in the planning of all events since September 11, 2001.

To illustrate how the plan comes together and what role industry plays, I will use the Kananaskis G8 Summit as an example. It started out as a 20-day prohibition extending 80 NM. After consultation, the period was reduced to four days (two days for the event plus one day on either side for the arrival and departure of VIPs), but the 80-NM zone remained. Given the massive size of the restricted area, COPA pushed for an early announcement of restrictions; a general plan was disseminated, followed by the final plan issued by NOTAM seven days prior to the event.

Each time a TFR is being planned, a meeting or meetings take place with the industry. In the case of the upcoming Olympics, several committees are in place and a number of meetings have been held over the past few years. Early in the process, key stakeholders from the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics were on hand to discuss lessons learned.

During the Francophonie Summit, there were 22 airspace incursions, with several intercepts. In one case, an aircraft was directed to land by an intercepting aircraft but took off again and had to be directed to land a second time. Although the NOTAM was highlighted by COPA and other organizations, it appears that relying solely on NOTAMs is an ineffective way to ensure that the public knows about TFRs.

Restrictions are now the norm for any significant international event held in Canada. TFRs can occur at any time, extend further in space, and be longer in duration than you might expect. Therefore, it is more important than ever to check NOTAMs every time you fly.

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