When a company is small and risks are high
Flight Academy Australia (FAA)
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Aviation demands particularly sound safety management systems and behaviours. Ben Thomson, Safety Manager for Flight Academy Australia (FAA), a light aircraft pilot training business, faces special challenges with instructors and students from a wide range of backgrounds.
In a zoom talk to Central Safety Group on 13 September, Ben discussed his approach and actions that could be applied equally to other small companies wanting to refresh and strengthen their safety management systems.
Ben found it was important to customise and go beyond the safety templates provided by CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority), thereby creating safety management systems with performance indicators and responses tailored to his workplace. “We’ve changed the way we look at safety – we’re now more action-oriented and proactive,” he explained. “For example, teaching people to report incidents that they’d otherwise regard as routine. This is giving me useful data to measure what’s working.”
He also spoke about a range of OHS issues that can be problematic for small businesses, including the loss of ‘safety corporate memory’ when people leave.
Ben Thomson has been an aviation safety manager for the last four years and a flight instructor since 2015. He holds a Commercial Pilot License, Multi-engine Aeroplane Rating, Instrument Rating and Flight Instructor Rating, with training approvals for airline cadet training.
He has trained a wide variety of students from basic flight sequences to airline cadet training in multi-engine aircraft. His role includes developing company safety policy and objectives, developing and monitoring safety performance objectives, managing aviation fatigue management and safety management systems, and investigating incidents. He is also involved in the writing of aviation operations manuals and flight training syllabi.
Prior to becoming a pilot, Ben worked as a public servant, including as a data analyst for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and in the Planning Decisions Unit for the Greater London Authority.