14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
A very disappointing book., 30 Aug 2009
The authors add virtually nothing new theoretically and the opportunity to incorporate useful practical learning from the actual implementation of SMS is missed. The authors primarily rely on repeating and commenting on material published free of charge by ICAO and the FAA (and even before publication, the main ICAO referenced was re-issued!). This over reliance on regulatory guidance is not balanced by the short sidebars quoting various industry figures on SMS in practice that the sleeve notes draw attention to. These sidebars, at best, are discussions on individual safety processes (but not an SMS as a system) or at worst simply quotes from speeches of former FAA officials (again freely downloadable from the internet).
Although the sleeve notes highlight that there is international SMS activity, apart from referencing ICAO material there is very little non-US content and none of the industry figures quoted are from outside the US). An exception is Chapter 11 (Implementing an SMS) which contains information from Transport Canada alongside that of the FAA (but again the lack of material from an actual implementation in that chapter massively reduces the value of this book). Even when some small slivers of practical experience are included, there are inconsistencies with the authors own writing. An example is the discussion of the concept of an accountable executive. The book states the FAA has chosen for the moment, not require the designation of an AE seeming to treat an FAA Advisory Circular as a rule. The authors then suggest there are thus two different models for top-level management involvement in SMS (one US and the other international), driven by fear of litigation in the US. Strangely just a few pages earlier a former manager at Continental Airlines makes the point that the airline CEO must be involved (the international model)! This is another example of the authors un-critical acceptance of the regulators guidance on SMS in preference to researching the lessons from the practical implementation of an effective SMS.
Overall the authors have little useful to say about actually managing an SMS as a system. This is the subject of Chapter 9, one of the shortest chapters and nearly half covers regulatory oversight (again derived from mainly freely available FAA material). There are several chapters (Chapter 3: Principles of Quality Management, Chapter 7: Taxonomies and Chapter 10: Tools and Analysis Methods) that simply describe a series of components with little attempt to systematically show how to apply these in an SMS or in a particular safety process. In fact these chapters have the feel of essays written independently and inserted late in production. The taxonomy chapter in particular is rather frustrating. This chapter compares the coding of ASRS, BASIS, ADREP, HFACS, ACCERS and TEM. These are all taxonomies with different purposes but that is not explored, although an alleged lack of public domain background to the origin of one is used to justify its dismissal. The analysis conducted uses criteria such as to support human factors model of pilot error and derived from pilot language. The authors are thus guilty of silo thinking and ignore the need to include a wider range of actors (i.e. not just pilots but maintenance personnel and others). The chapter concludes by favouring TEM as the authors preferred taxonomy for safety risk management. Readers will note that a significant part of the chapter was apparently written by a TEM researcher from the University of Texas.
The book is not very well balanced. The process of Safety Risk Management, one of the four pillars of an SMS in Chapter 1, is covered across 4 chapters. The pillar of Safety Assurance (that includes audit and investigation) is covered in a handful of pages in Chapter 8. The two other pillars (Safety Policy and Promotion) arent even mentioned in the index!
Overall this book has the feel of book written primarily as an undergraduate course text, though exploitatively it is only available in hardback at $99.95 / £60. It is, as the sleeve notes claim: a comprehensive work that will be an invaluable reference tool for the SMS practitioner? No. Hence the score.