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CHAPTER 2 Airport Safety Management Systems The aviation industry has always quoted safety at the forefront of its priorities, and as a gen- eral rule, has demonstrated diligence in learning from its mistakes and implementing changes that lead to further improvement. This somewhat reactive approach produced a steady decline in accident rates until the mid-1980s. Since then, the fatal accident rate in air transport opera- tions has remained fairly stable, despite a growth in traffic during the same period. This trend implies little improvement in safety on the operation/accident ratio and suggests that as traffic grows, the total number of accidents will also grow. The ICAO(6), recognizing these facts and that "the public's perception of aviation safety is largely based on the number of aircraft accidents rather than the accident rate,"(7) issued a reso- lution to "reduce the numbers of accidents and fatalities irrespective of the volumes of air traf- fic."(8) The ICAO further provides guidance on how to achieve this resolution, including the recommendation to "develop a civil aviation safety management framework and recommenda- tions for improving safety."(7) In recent years a great deal of effort has been devoted to understanding how accidents hap- pen. It is generally accepted that most accidents result from human error. It would be easy to conclude that these human errors indicate carelessness or lack of skills on the job, but such a statement is not accurate. Accident investigators are finding that the human error is only the last link in a chain that leads to an accident. Accidents cannot be prevented by changing people; they can be prevented only when we address the underlying causal factors. There are two ways to think about safety. The traditional way is that safety has been about avoiding costs. In this sense, many aviation organizations have been bankrupted by the cost of a single major accident. This makes a strong case for safety, but the cost of occurrences is only part of the story. Efficiency is the second way of thinking about safety. Research has shown that safety and efficiency are positively linked. Safety pays off in reduced losses, enhanced productivity, and lower insurance costs. In 2006, the Port of Seattle opened a ramp tower to assist with ramp oper- ations and improve safety and efficiency. The Port's insurance company agreed that the liability had been reduced due to the ramp tower and lowered the insurance costs. This is an excellent example of how safety, efficiency, and costs are linked. An SMS will provide an airport with the capacity to anticipate and address safety issues before they lead to an incident or accident. An SMS also provides management with the ability to deal effectively with accidents and near misses so that valuable lessons are applied to improve safety and efficiency. The SMS approach reduces losses, improves productivity, and is generally good for business. Airports are key parts of the aviation industry, together with the airlines, air traffic organiza- tions, and aviation service providers. Accident rates can decrease only if each of these parts takes 7