#31 | The Safety Management System (SMS) in Business Aviation w/ Dr. B.J. Goodheart

What if their were a tool that could identify and manage risks and inefficiencies in your business aviation ventures?

We’re talking about the SMS, or Safety Management System.  And, here to help us better understand the benefits of an SMS is Dr. BJ Goodheart.

SMS Expertise

Dr. Goodheart brings 20 years of aviation expertise to the table with a focus on applications within aviation safety management and organization culture and climate. He holds an undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Science, a Masters in Safety Science, and a Ph.D. from ERAU with a specialization in applied aviation safety.

B.J. is also an ATP, CFI and today manages claims and safety programs for an international client base at AirSure Limited. He was named one of Aviation Week and Space Technology Magazine’s Top Forty under 40 in aviation worldwide.

What is a Safety Management System?

Dr. Goodheart views an SMS as a set of procedures that help a flight operation understand their risk profile and make informed decisions about how to best manage that risk and evaluate the effectiveness of safety actions taken.

In business terms, safety management and business management share similar goals:  positive results, large-margin ROI, efficiency, low risk.  Only the metrics differ.

We dive deeper into exactly what an SMS is in the episode (download here).

Executing a SMS

How does an aviation unit actually use Business Aviation Safety Management System to reduce risk and increase efficiency? It depends…

For instance, a private, mid-cabin aircraft flight department's SMS execution will look and act a certain way.  Contrarily, if we travel across the airport to a public company's multi-aircraft, international-mission flight operation, we'll see an SMS carried out differently.

Imagine Lowes and Home Depot.  Both sell lumber and hardware.  But, they each execute on these missions in their own way to produce profits.  Similarly, in business aviation individual flight department factors will sculpt and shape the structure and execution of an associated SMS.

Safety Management System Benefits

The SMS helps identify and manage risk while increasing efficiency. Why does this matter? Because just like in business… less risk, better management, and more efficiency leads to better results.  Better ROI.

The SMS simply does this through a safety lens.

The SMS Key

Dr. Goodheart discusses the one thing that is absolutely necessary for an SMS to work and bring benefits to a private aircraft owner or operator. What is it? Buy-in and resource commitment from senior leadership.

Getting the principal(s) or corporate business partners on board with the idea of implementing the SMS in their aviation operations is easier when we use the right language. This means referencing business metrics. For instance, Dr. Goodheart provides a useful example in the episode:

In aviation safety we judge success by the absence of accidents. That's like judging business success by the absence of bankruptcy.

Once the key players support a Safety Management System, moving forward will be easier and provide more value to the principal(s), passengers, and/or business.


What matters most from this SMS discussion?

Simple.  Look at the SMS as a core business practice. Business leaders lean on many things to ensure profitability: leadership, resources, capital, systems, procedures, and culture to name a few.

Similarly, the SMS, when utilized as a core business practice, helps ensure high-margin positive results in business aviation activities.

Mentioned In The Show

Reach Dr. Goodheart at Airsure Limited

Embry-Riddle Aero. Univ. SMS Workshops (also taught by Dr. Goodheart)

Professional Aviation Education Courses (also at ERAU)

Safety Management Systems in Aviation (Ashgate Studies in Human Factors for Flight Operations)


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This is an extraordinary article about security administration frameworks in flight. It is important this is just a single range where SMSs are having any kind of effect. I work in a huge mechanical production line. We are infamous for horrendous work environment wounds. Under union weight, the proprietors are at long last setting up a SMS. I feel much more secure going to work now.


Rose Nickelson
Rose Nickelson

My brother is starting a construction company with all of his buddies from college. His friends kind of like to mess around with each other every now and then. On a construction job that isn't to safe, so I have been wondering if my brother would be able to keep his friends in line. It seems like it would be a good idea for him to get safety management plan.



This is a great article about safety management systems in avionics. It is worth noting that this is only one area where SMSs are making a difference. I work in a large industrial factory. We are notorious for horrific workplace injuries. Under union pressure, the owners are finally setting up a SMS. I feel much safer going to work now.



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