This popular saying is an old one. It comes from the 18th century English poet Alexander Pope.

“Err” comes from the Latin word “errare,” meaning “to stray or wander.” Related words, such as errant and erroneous, have the same Latin origin.  But the noun form of “err,” error, appears in many English expressions.

In every human endeavor, purely by the human element, there is potential for undesirable outcomes, because…

“To err is human…”

In aviation, we have become very adept in mitigating against this human trait, with the implementation of systems, procedures, and automation.  However, even these can create further opportunities for undesirable outcomes, as these are of human design.

So, is it all for naught? Not at all, otherwise, we would not have the successful industry we enjoy now.  But how do we guard against this fallibility of human endeavor, to ensure the operation we are involved with is as safe as possible?  One of the systems that are designed for this very task is a Safety Management System (SMS).

An SMS has become mandated by law in most ICAO countries, requiring operators to have an SMS implemented and approved by the National Authority.  Being a ‘soft’ system, practical people such as pilots, engineers, and some management staff often devalue an SMS or see it as another layer of mandated paperwork that must be fulfilled.  Sadly. In these cases, SMS often becomes a box ticking exercise, where a so-called SMS is implemented but is either unfit for purpose or is not given the due recognition or ‘buy-in’ it needs and deserves to become effective.  This can be quite understandable, particularly for smaller operators.  There are a hundred million things to do to keep any operation afloat, not least of which, and SMS.  This is where the use of a Virtual Safety Office (VSO) comes into its own. 

Imagine you are a budding entrepreneur.  Your background has some business experience, but you are no accountant, and the intricacies of business accounting and tax law are a little beyond your scope, particularly if you are a practical person such as a tradesman (no offense to tradesman!).  In this situation, you most likely would seek the services of a professional accountant, to help manage the finances and ensure the business remains on the correct side of the tax law.  A VSO operates in a very similar fashion, but in relation to the SMS.  A VSO is an independent safety consultant that manages the SMS nuts and bolts on the operator’s behalf.  This consultant may

have a handful of clients that he acts for in this way.  The advantages of economies of scale, and the consultant’s experience and expertise, allow the consultant to provide a far superior service, a more complete and effective SMS, than what the small operator may be able to manage alone.  As the accountable manager, ONE of the many tasks may be to manage safety, to ensure regulatory compliance.  A VSO will not only ensure regulatory compliance but actually become a useful tool in ensuring the safety of passengers, freight, staff, and property.  Used correctly, a VSO could become the most useful external contributor to the growth and success of an aviation operation.  As has been said, “Safety is NO accident”, it takes time and effort, probably time and effort the small operator does not have to give.  A VSO can take up this slack and ensure an SMS is run at its best and becomes an extremely useful tool.

Speur Aviation has the experience and expertise to become a useful part of any operation, as a VSO.