QMS and SMS in Aviation
The relationship between Quality Management System (QMS) and Safety Management System (SMS) has developed into an insightful association in the aviation industry. The importance of their harmonious integration is becoming a crucial element in any successful flight operation as SMS continues to evolve and become more regulated, and takes on a dominant role in a company’s overall strategy.
Both have common methods and techniques, but different objectives. QMS objective is Customer Satisfaction. And SMS objective is Aviation Safety. QMS is not mandatory but if there is one, it cannot be in conflict with SMS. Quality is essentially looking at compliance, while safety is looking at risk.
Difference Between QMS and SMS
There is a distinction between the concepts of quality management system and safety management system. It is possible to have a quality product or service, as defined by the ISO standards, and still not have a safe product or service.
The adoption of some of the types of tools and techniques used in quality management are also used to manage the safety system. However, it must not be assumed to mean that processes designed to produce a quality product, (repeatedly doing the same thing, without variation) equates to the same thing as repeatedly producing a safe product.
Improving a safety record is not the same as improving the safety performance. There are many airlines that have extremely good safety records, but are operating with inadequate organisational structures or unsafe performance and have just not had an accident. A good safety record, just like a good quality record, does not guarantee safe performance.
Improvements to QMS process are needed to fully meet SMS requirements. This include establishing processes to better identify new hazards and establishing processes to measure the effectiveness of safety risk controls. These improvements are developed during the SMS implementation effort. Safety management and Quality management are complementary and work closely together to achieve the overall safety goals of the organisation.