Military Aviation Authority selects Baines Simmons for £2.3 Million Error Management contract - Baines Simmons
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Military Aviation Authority selects Baines Simmons for £2.3 Million Error Management contract

Over the next three and a half years, 18,000 aviation specialist personnel, working across the Royal Navy (RN), the British Army, the Royal Air Force (RAF), and Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) will engage with the new Military Aviation Authority (MAA) in a significant aviation safety improvement investment programme worth £2.3 million.

Military Aviation Authority selects Baines Simmons

Baines Simmons managing director Keven Baines with Air Commodore Tony Barmby of the MAA

In a move that will benefit the entire UK Defence aviation community, the MAA is implementing a pan-Defence Aviation Error Management System (DAEMS) that is driven by the recommendations of the Nimrod Review Report*. Following a MOD competitive tendering process, Baines Simmons has been selected to work alongside the MAA to provide collaborative technical and expert safety support for the introduction of this ground-breaking DAEMS programme.

The DAEMS programme, which will be jointly developed by the MAA and Baines Simmons in conjunction with Service Commands, will be the largest of its kind to be undertaken anywhere in the world. It is underpinned by the core recognition that, to be effective and to secure sustainable results, safety management systems need to be underwritten by an integrated and highly engaged people-centric philosophy. The programme aims to build safety improvement through active safety leadership and positive safety culture development. This, in turn, will contribute to the prevention of aircraft accidents and loss of life, improved operational capability and more effective utilisation of resources.

Commencing in September 2011, the DAEMS programme will be implemented at locations across the UK, as well as the Falkland Islands, Cyprus and Gibraltar. It will provide a self-aware and sustainable safety system capable of demonstrating return on investment both in terms of operating and safety behaviour. By building a close collaborative relationship, Baines Simmons will support the MAA in maximising the effectiveness of DAEMS. The prime outcome will be a world-class, proactive, risk-based hazard-management culture. This will be achieved by developing a generation of aviation safety personnel who understand the nature of human error and its causes, and are willing and competent to develop the desired safety behaviours to deliver system performance improvements.

“Baines Simmons has impressed the MAA with its involvement in implementation of error management projects to date. In all the pilot and scoping work we have done with Baines Simmons over the past year, it has proved to be a reliable partner and advisor with excellent change management expertise,” explains Air Commodore Tony Barmby of the MAA. “We are confident that Baines Simmons’ keen understanding of the special nature and dependencies of military aviation safety culture will continue to help us drive forward this highly important initiative quickly and effectively.”

Keven Baines, managing director at Baines Simmons, adds: “We are thrilled to have been selected to help the MAA implement this enormously important, leading-edge safety management programme. Baines Simmons is uniquely positioned to affect real safety performance improvements, not only though innovative fulfilment of the technical aspects of the DAEMS, but also to act as expert change agents in the development of positive safety cultures that integrate all the essential elements of an effective safety management system. The DAEMS programme will enable UK Military aviation to move to higher proactive levels of integrated safety management maturity”.

Baines Simmons is recognised as an international market leader in aviation safety improvement, operating as a trusted partner and change agent for more than 350 of the world’s leading civil and military aviation organisations in 40 countries. The company has built one of the largest resource centres of safety consultants in the world, and has developed and evolved market leading proprietary tools, processes and approaches to safety improvement. To date, the company has serviced the needs of more than 30 regulators worldwide, including the UK CAA and MOD MAA, and has partnered with numerous military aviation organisations, including the RAF, RN Fleet Air Arm, DE&S, Apache Depth Support Unit, Vector Aerospace, BAE Systems, SERCO and Babcock Defence Services. It is currently the single largest supplier of safety and error management products and services to EASA.

The Defence Aviation Error Management System (DAEMS) is a MOD-wide initiative to promote better air safety and operating efficiency by better occurrence reporting, better investigation and better lessons learned. At the heart of DAEMS is the idea that error is a normal part of any human activity, whether flying, maintaining, controlling or any other aviation related task. An error is considered to have occurred when an aircraft or system with human interaction fails to perform in the manner expected. This definition of an error thus demands consideration of any system failings (for example, manning shortages, equipment availability, or ambiguous publications), as well as the errors made by individuals. Consequently DAEMS incorporates: aircrew, engineers and technicians, airspace and air traffic controllers, movements and ground handling personnel and others (including their supervisors) – in fact any person either directly or indirectly involved with aviation.

DAEMS is not an IT system, but a combination of policies, processes and tools for reporting and analysis of errors and near misses in Defence aviation. It uses the extant Aviation Safety Information Management System (ASIMS), a computer-based reporting system, database and analysis tool, and marries this up with the training required to inculcate the necessary understanding and cultures.

Successful error management systems enable businesses operating in complex, high-risk sectors such as aviation to maximise their ability to identify, mitigate and manage risks by involving all of their staff in the reporting and subsequent analysis of potential hazards, system failures and human errors, in order to prevent recurrences. The Nimrod Review report highlights the benefits that such a system could have for the MOD in terms of potential to reduce accidents, loss of life and unnecessary expenditure of resources. To date, scoping work has developed initial ideas built on the Human Factors (Maintenance) Error Management System HF(M)EMS and the DAEMS Field Development Phase (FDP). There are 3 key features to the approach being taken to DAEMS, which are being addressed as follows:

Just Culture. Policies and processes for the establishment of a Just Culture, and for effective management of error reports, have been developed and tested using external technical support from Baines Simmons. This development has taken into account the experiences and best practices of HF(M)EMS and the results are now being used during the FDP at Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose. The necessary policies, regulations and models have been developed. However, the management systems developed for DAEMS will be included in the implementation training to be provided by the technical support contract.

Information Management System. The need for an information management system to manage the handling and analysis of error reports raised under DAEMS, and to provide an audit trail of any subsequent action, will be satisfied by using the extant Aviation Safety Information Management System (ASIMS) introduced in 2009 and managed by the MAA Flt Ops Div Occurrences Branch. New functionality and processes have been developed to optimise the use of ASIMS for DAEMS.

Human Factors Awareness. The Nimrod Review identified that for a Defence-wide EMS to be implemented properly, it would be necessary to combine training in baseline human factors awareness with specific EMS training. The main effort for technical support to the DAEMS project will be: the deployment of the widespread training programme required in order to implement the policies and arrangements already developed across Defence aviation (and optimised at RNAS Culdrose); giving people the knowledge and skills that they need to play their part in error management; and mentoring during the programme roll-out’s early stages to ensure that benefits and credibility are not undermined by poor understanding and ineffective implementation at unit level. Revised planning and scoping work, accounting for known effects of SDSR, has identified the need to train some 18,000 personnel (mainly Service, but with some civilians) in one or more of 5 roles, and to implement DAEMS at every Defence aviation unit and sub-unit.