An Integrated Approach to Compliance in the Airline Industry

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Safety authorities around the world have adapted the self-regulated approach to surveillance of the industry, encouraging airlines to take responsibility for their own safety management systems (SMS) while also ensuring compliance to relevant regulations.

Managing safety is not a small feat for an industry with such a deep level of complexity, both on human and operational levels. Being able to define and execute Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in a manner that is compliant with regulation is business critical, but it can also drive efficiency. But to do so, airlines must adopt an integrated approach whereby legislation and regulations are managed in the context of flight and Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operations.

An Integrated Model-Based Approach to Compliance

Achieving an integrated approach lies in having compliance, regulations, reporting systems as well as processes and procedures incorporated into a model-based Business Management System (BMS) for everything including day-to-day operations. Compliance activities need to be implemented in the context of operations and also in a way that is agile enough to move with changes in regulation, business transformation or continuous improvement initiatives.

The solution is a comprehensive model of business operations which clarifies responsibilities and links all compliance obligations to the related operational processes and systems. From MRO and Electronic Flight Book (EFB) to catering procedures, SOPs should describe what process performers need to do and how to do it right. It should at the same time give compliance managers a line of sight from regulatory obligations to the individuals and process steps responsible for satisfying those obligations.

A BMS or operational framework using a model-based approach can effectively record the complexity of your operations in a way that is flexible enough to deliver targeted actionable views as well as accurate standard operating procedures (SOPs). The breadth and depth of visibility you will gain into your operations will give you greater understanding and control necessary to run a modern airline with the intricacy it demands.

Here are six essential components this model of business should include so as to build attestable compliance:

1. Record compliance requirements & monitor changes

By recording their governance and compliance documentation into a business management system and linking them with their day-to-day operational procedures, compliance managers will know exactly what MRO procedures are impacted by changes in regulations or what sections in the EFB need updating. It will allow them to identify the gaps between where they are now and where they need to be to address compliance obligations.

2. Assess & communicate the risks

Your business management system should capture any detail of the organisation in a way that helps you understand how changes might affect each part of the business. For example, MRO projects might bring new risks, new processes and potentially new compliance issues. As such, having a clear visual representation of the relationships between people and processes will help you assess the potential risks any transformation will have on your airline and communicate these across the business.

3. Document standard operating procedures

Without a defined process for maintaining and keeping controls up-to-date, your procedures will soon be non-compliant due to normal changes in your business environments. A central (model-based) system or repository where regulations, standards, procedures and templates are kept and linked to show relationships will ensure consistency, fast response, quality control and it will save you time and resources. SOP’s should be generated from this repository, not created separately in word or PDF form.

4. Integrate compliance into your business operations

Compliance doesn’t need to impose costs upon your business activities - it can strengthen them by being integrated into the way you do business. By using a process model as an auditable, high-integrity representation of operations, airlines can highlight on a day-to-day basis processes, information and responsibilities required to meet standards. With this approach, organisations will always be ready for an audit.

5. Checkpoints and accountability

An effective way to ensure ongoing monitoring and company-wide adherence to the business’ obligations is to integrate compliance-related checkpoints in procedures and have these reflected in employees’ position descriptions, key performance indicators (KPIs) and tasks. These can even be added to your airline’s reward structure to increase accountability and buy-in.

6. Share your policy and standards across the organisation

Effectively disseminating your company policies and standards across the organisation is part and parcel of your governance and compliance obligations. Any employee should be able to easily access a web portal or a similar application to only see the processes and relevant regulations that relate to them to help them understand what they are meant to do and why.

When built into your business management system, these capabilities will help you drive efficiency and compliance while gaining a much broader understanding of your airline, helping you identify and close the gaps along the way.


About Holocentric

Holocentric’s Modelpedia software helps organisations to operationalise strategy, manage business transformations and achieve operational excellence, by providing a business management system that helps capture, understand, change and optimise their business – from strategy, people, processes and procedures to compliance obligations. Holocentric software stores information in a single location and makes it accessible, easily understood and personalised to suit the needs of each user.