Human error or malevolence?

Drew McCarthy
September 15, 2008
Written by
Human error or malevolence?  That’s the difference between safety and security. In the realm of safety, statistics show that about 80 per cent of all aviation accidents and incidents result from human factors. Security is a different species. A security breach occurs because someone intentionally causes an accident or uses an aircraft to commit a crime or an act of terrorism. In both cases, risk analysis and management are the best tools to minimize or eliminate potential damage to human life and property.

In terms of risk, there are three broad threats to aviation: the use of an aircraft as a weapon, the use of an aircraft to carry and deploy a weapon, and the use of an aircraft to transport people, weapons, or other illicit materials for the purpose of committing a terrorist or criminal act.

The implementation of SMS across Canadian aviation has been in progress for some time now. The basic SMS philosophy of performance-based assessment replacing prescriptive rules has become increasingly engrained in the industry. These same principles are also being applied to security. Transport Canada has been working with both commercial and business operators to formalize their security procedures. 

Insofar as current security practices are concerned, business and commercial aviation has been operating with a heightened sense of awareness and rigorous procedures for some time now. The task of security management systems (SeMS) is to document these procedures within individual organizations in a way that integrates them into the culture of the company – a secure culture parallels a safe culture.

As with SMS, SeMS is based on management commitment and leadership (which includes an accountable executive), a written policy, traceability, employee participation and the creation of external partnerships.

Most operations will find that documenting and formalizing what they currently do will demonstrate that they are already running
secure businesses.

Fundamental to SeMS is the idea that different types of operations with different business models and of different sizes will all benefit from the performance-based approach.
As with all systems approaches, sometimes the jargon can dilute the message, so the questions really are: Have you thought of all the ways in which you, your employees, your partners, and your customers might be harmed by someone who is intent on doing harm? What is the likelihood of certain things happening, and what are the consequences if they do?  What can your company do consistently and automatically to minimize these risks? Are you able to imagine all of the possibilities on your own, or should you be partnering with your colleagues, governments and other trusted associates to further your goals? Do you have a written security plan that is understood by everyone in the operation?

Security management is proactive. Chasing perpetrators after they’re gone is outdated and ineffective. The bad guys are definitely still out there and operators need to be ready on the day that the threat becomes a reality.

Add comment

Security code

Subscription Centre

New Subscription
Already a Subscriber
Customer Service
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

Latest Careers

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. To find out more, read our Privacy Policy.