What is the SMS good for?

In aviation safety has always rated high. This is especially true for airports. Against the background of increased traffic numbers in aviation, the currently recognized high standard of safety on a traffic hub like Frankfurt Airport can only be maintained by continuously reducing the number of safety-related incidents.

In this context, the proactive approach to the issue of safety is gaining increasing importance, i.e. any potentially hazardous activity must be identified in time, thus lowering the number of incidents and accidents. This can succeed only by a strategy involving all relevant companies, organizations and persons acting at an airport.


What is the significance of SMS for me personally?

SMS concerns all persons employed at Frankfurt Airport. Due to the complexity of the operational procedures within the range of aviation areas, a myriad of different companies and organizations are put in charge of handling the air operations. This requires a company-wide commitment to participate in Fraport's Safety Management System.

It is important to recognize that all people working at our airport are jointly responsible for as high a safety level as possible; this is the basis for furthering a company-wide safety culture and a matter both resting within Fraport AG and also in cooperation with external service providers. Only if all employees are aware of safety as a concern and this awareness is being “lived” day by day, the pronounced improvements sought in the realm of aviation safety can be achieved.


Are there any examples of safety-relevant incidents?

The incidents mentioned below are typical examples of accidents, identified safety deficits or potential hazards that may affect the flight operational safety. However, this list is not exhaustive and serves for clarification only.

  • Illegal incursion of the runway system with a vehicle or on foot
  • Taxiing obstacle for the aircraft (failure to comply with rights of way)
  • Damage to aircraft
  • Conditions hindering the traffic (for instance parking of vehicles and appliances within restricted areas)
  • Foreign Object Debris (FOD)
  • Taxiing errors
  • Bird strikes
  • Forced landing
  • Aircraft on fire
  • Oil pollution


What happens with the safety messages?

Upon receipt of the safety message or the safety instruction, as the case may be, by the SMS, the message/instruction is recorded and processed. A substantial component of the processing is the qualitative classification as an SMS incident and a thorough investigation of the incident.

Where a need or action for modification can be derived, SMS recommendations may be issued either in a general form or directed to the parties involved in the process. The implementation of safety recommendations and the effectiveness of any corrective measure taken will be tracked. Usually the reporting person will be given feedback as regards the processing of his or her message.


What may my contribution to SMS be like?

Everyone shares accountability for safety at our airport!

The SMS offers the possibility to all airport employees to report accidents, safety-relevant accidents, potential hazards and safety-specific ideas. These safety messages allow safety problems and hazards to be identified in due time, and to minimize their potential (financial and operational) effects. One of the greatest risks for the safety at an airport consists in unsafe situations or incidents that may arise, because they have never been reported and have thus remained unnoticed. Such incidents tend to repeat themselves so long until they result in an accident, not seldom with high financial or operational effects. Share your observations and findings with us! Do not assume somebody else already did this!

Keep your eyes open! Through caution and common sense in everyday operations, everyone can make a contribution to minimize risks for himself/herself and others. As an example, do not walk past an object lying around - also called FOD (foreign object debris). Instead, pick it up and dispose of it. Each FOD eliminated may prevent an accident!


How does SMS distinguish itself from industrial safety?

The SMS mainly identifies hazards and processes caused by human and technical factors, which may affect the flight operational safety at Frankfurt Airport.
Contrariwise, industrial safety sets out to prevent or minimize any hazards caused by the operation of aircraft, appliances or devices, which may directly affect the company's employees. Among the tasks of industrial safety, we can mention the prevention of occupational accidents, avoidance of potential health hazards and the ergonomic and humanly adequate structuring of work. All work areas of the airport are taken into consideration.


How does SMS distinguish itself from Security?

There is a difference between safety and security. The term “safety” refers to operational safety, while "security" is used in connection with the warding off of external and deliberate dangers (e.g. terrorist threads).

Instead of just “safety” oftentimes “air safety” or “aviation safety” is used, while “security” may also be called “air security” or “aviation security”.

The SMS always and only deals with the flight operational “safety” aspect of Frankfurt Airport.


Which components does the SMS contain?

The SMS is based on three main pillars:

Process system
The process system identifies and documents all safety-relevant working processes at Frankfurt Airport. It examines the processes systematically for possible weak points, delivers advice on effective measures and provides implementation support.
Report system:

Risks and danger potentials can be recognized by means of the report system and counteracted in time. The people employed at the airport have the possibility of submitting a safety message in case of safety-relevant incidents or identified safety deficits.

Change management
Changes in processes, procedures and services or the airport infrastructure may always lead to new hazards or to changes in the potential risks for the safety. Thanks to change management, safety-relevant changes are identified and evaluated beforehand.

Risk system
By means of a risk matrix, the risk system identifies and evaluates risks shown in messages or safety instructions received.

In the context of audits and inspections, compliance with standards, guidelines and processes is being verified, in order to find out strong and weak points or risks within a system.


How is SMS organized at Fraport?

Safety Service Office (SSO)
Fraport's safety management system is run by the Safety Manager or his/her staff - the Safety Services Office (SSO). This office advises and supports the company management and all other departments, process managers and process owners in all safety aspects. In training courses, programs and audits all people employed in airport operation are trained and sensitized to the issue of safety. Besides, the SSO coordinates emergency planning at the airport. Towards third parties, the SSO represents Fraport AG before bodies and associations in all matters dealing with safety.
Organs of the safety management system

Safety Review Board (SRB)
The SRB is composed of the Accountable Manager, the heads of the ground-handling (BVD) and FTU departments, the head of the corporate security department as well as experts, nominees and persons invited. The SRB advises the Accountable Manager on changes and new introductions and supervises safety-relevant aspects of procedures, techniques and organizations. Besides the monitoring of the effectiveness of the SMS, the SRB also ensures (human) resources. In case of necessity, the Safety Review board can convene Safety Action Groups and define their tasks.

Safety Action Groups (SAG)
One SAG is made up of managers and experts of the areas responsible or co-responsible for the process. They are formed by the SRB and remain in existence until completion of the given task. A Safety Action Group examines and analyzes test positions, identifies suitable measures and ensures implementation of the measures decided within the SRB.

Safety Committees
The Safety Committees support the SMS with their experts' assessment and by organizing, coordinating and launching programs promoting operational safety. The committees are independent, they are not subject to any directions from third parties as regards the contents-related processing of the tasks, and are not involved in questions of guilt or liability.

Runway Safety Team (RST)
The Runway Safety Team is composed of representatives of Fraport AG and of Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (DFS, German Air Traffic Control). The team is chaired by the DFS. The team constantly collects, evaluates and analyzes all safety-relevant incidents and situations at the airport, provided that they concern runway safety (for take-off and landing).

Ramp Safety Committee (RSC)
The Ramp Safety Committee consists of the Safety Manager, the Safety Service Office, a representative of the Operations Managers and other necessary parties. It collects, evaluates and analyzes safety-relevant situations and incidents on the apron. Operational safety on the apron is evaluated, measures are discussed and safety recommendation are given to prevent future incidents or accidents.

Construction and Obstacle Routine (COR)
In the framework of a “flight operations routine meeting” safety-relevant issues that are connected with the infrastructure and obstacles are dealt with. Representatives of the Airside Infrastructure, Flight Operations, Duty Management and the SSO departments evaluate construction projects, potential and existing hazards and discuss possible remedies.

FRA Wildlife Control Committee (WCC)
Where issues of the animal world or environmental hazards affect operational safety, they are dealt with in the FRA Wildlife Control Committees (WCC). The participants of the committees include:

  • Wildlife Control Team (representatives of the Forest and Biotope departments as well as the Bird Strike official).
  • Fraport Duty Management, flight operations, Safety Manager, fire brigade, nursery
  • German committee for the prevention of bird strikes in aviation
  • German air traffic control
  • Aviation Safety Authority (HMWEVL)
  • Local Nature Conservation Agency at Frankfurt
  • Deutsche Lufthansa AG
  • Federal police
  • Airport police headquarters

The Committee discusses bird strike data and findings, evaluates game animal dangers, recognizes and evaluates trends and determines countermeasures. Since the game animal danger management at an airport involves very complex habitat management and strategies against protected or rare species, a wide range of interest groups are heard during the communication, cooperation and coordination processes.