updated on 04.24.2015

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ATCV Collection of SMS Tools
Gap Analysis, Hazard Identification & Risk Analysis & Assessment Tools

ATC V's PDF chart listing dozens of various SMS Software, Tools & Resources with descriptions, links (some free)
There are many aviation SMS resources (rules, regulations, teaching tools) on our other ATCV web pages. In our research we have found various tools to help implement SMS.  Many are free and geared more to smaller aviation entities that must work within small budgets which restrict them to using paper based tools and forms.  This page is geared for those 'hands-on' tools.  Even if you don't implement SMS now, you can start the change by looking at your business culture.  Inviting reports, company-wide involvement and policy which promotes the company's focus of not only making a profit, providing jobs, but a primary goal of safety for not only their clients, but their employees.

Some of the following documents, while not originated by ATC Vantage (ATCV), have been reformatted by ATCV into Excel 2007, Word 2007, and interactive PDF forms that can be reused, modified for individual aviation businesses.  We only ask that references to ATCV be recognized, given credit for, and linked back to atcvantage.com.  (note: we use Word & Excel 2007 (docx & xlsx extension) re: small file size and extra security - download free Office File Converters & Viewers)


  1. ATC Vantage Tools/Templates
         • SMS Software Resource Guide - lists, describes and links to dozens of vendors and free Risk Analysis Tools
         • Ishikawa ("Fishbone") Diagram (right facing) - Hazard Identification Tool (interactive form)
         • Ishikawa ("Fishbone") Diagram (left facing) - Hazard Identification Tool (interactive form)
         • Fault Tree Analysis -Hazard Identification Tool (interactive form)
         • System Description for Airports  (ICAO)
         • PDF documents - creating free PDF documents, editing, how-to's
         • FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations) CFR Part # Listings
         • FAA AC120-92B (8/12/2010)
         • Risk Matrix Assessment Samples - ATCV developed/reformatted into Word/Excel samples
         • FAA System Safety Handbook (chapters combined by ATC Vantage)


  2. Hazard Identification (ID) Tools  - Ishikawa (aka "Fishbone") diagram
         • Ishikawa ("Fishbone") Diagram (right facing) -(interactive form)
         • Ishikawa ("Fishbone") Diagram (left facing) - (interactive form)


  3. Risk Analysis/Management/Assessment tools:    Bow-Tie Model
    (Cause & Effect) FLOW CHART PROGRAMS:
         • SmartDraw
         • SmartDraw from ISO-9001 store incl. templates & program @ $149  
         • Microsoft Visio
         • FlowChart.com
         • BowTie XP

  4. Risk Analysis/Management/Assessment tools:   Fault Tree Analysis
         • Fault Tree Analysis -Hazard Identification Tool
         • Microsoft Visio
         • SmartDraw
         • SmartDraw from ISO-9001 store incl. templates & program @ $149  

  5. 5 Why's
    There are two primary techniques used to perform 5 Whys: the fishbone (or Ishikawa) diagram and a tabular format.
    These tools allow for analysis to be branched in order to provide multiple root causes. This is one of the most important aspects in the 5 Why approach - the real root cause should point toward a process that is not working well or does not exist. Untrained facilitators will often observe that answers seem to point towards classical answers such as not enough time, not enough investments, or not enough manpower. These answers may sometimes be true but in most cases they lead to answers out of our control. Therefore, instead of asking the question why?, ask why did the process fail? A key phrase to keep in mind in any 5 Why exercise is "people do not fail, processes do". Start with a question (ie. why did the car not start) and drill down with:
    1. Why? - The battery is dead. (first why)
    2. Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
    3. Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
    4. Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
    5. Why? - The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)
    6. Why? - Replacement parts are not available because of the extreme age of the vehicle. (sixth why, optional footnote)
    Start maintaining the vehicle according to the recommended service schedule. (possible 5th Why solution)
    Purchase a different vehicle that is maintainable. (possible 6th Why solution)

    While the 5 Whys is a powerful tool for engineers or technically-savvy individuals to help get to the true causes of problems, it has been criticized by Teruyuki Minoura, former managing director of global purchasing for Toyota, as being too basic a tool to analyze root causes to the depth that is needed to ensure that they are fixed.[4] Reasons for this criticism include:Tendency for investigators to stop at symptoms rather than going on to lower-level root causes.
    Inability to go beyond the investigator's current knowledge - cannot find causes that they do not already know.
    Lack of support to help the investigator ask the right "why" questions.Results are not repeatable - different people using 5 Whys come up with different causes for the same problem.Tendency to isolate a single root cause, whereas each question could elicit many different root causes.These can be significant problems when the method is applied through deduction only. On-the-spot verification of the answer to the current "why" question before proceeding to the next is recommended to avoid these issues.

  6. Flowcharts, Mindmaps
    (organizational charts, flowcharts, note-taking, running meetings, presentations, event planning
         • FreeMind
         • XMind $40 per year (and will run on Macs)
         • MindManager 9 (+$300) https://www.mindjet.com/
         • SimpleMind (iPad & iPhone - free & upgrade $3)
         • Thinking Space (for AndroiD)
         • MindBerry (for Blackberry)

  7. Risk Matrix Tools
         • Aviation Operational Risk Assessments from Fire & Aviation Management
         • Risk Assessment Matrix (great details)
         • Risk Assessment Matrix  simple, effective (used in Oil & Gas industry)
         • Risk Assessment Matrix (based on AC120-92A)
         • Risk Assessment Matrix (based on MIL-STD-882D)
         • RiFAA System Safety Handbook, Apx. B, Comparative Risk Assessment (CRA) Form Matrix Tool -FAA AC120-92A
         • US Air Force Pamphlet 90-902 Operational Risk Management (ORM) Guidelines & Tools - Has
           examples of various charts, tools... how to hazard ID, assmt. & analysis; implement risk controls, evaluation.

  8. Pre-Departure
         • Flight Risk Assessment Tool - "real-company" sample
         • Maintenance Risk Assessment Tool - "real-company" sample
         • Pre-Departure Risk Assessment Tool - Sample (Excel 2007 format)
         • Pre-Departure "Flight Risk Awareness Tool" - from FAA InFO 07015 in Word 2007 format

  9. Gap Analysis Tools  (Excel format)
          • Gap Analysis Tool for Air Carriers  -- 2014.07.31
          • Gap Analysis Tool for MRO's --   2014.07.31

        •  Example Applications of Analytical Tools for Airline Flight Safety (flight Safety, GAIN)

  10. SMS Evaluation Tools
         • SMICG SMS Evaluation Tool v1.0 was developed by the Safety Management International Group (SM ICG)
         • SKYbrary - SMICG SMS Evaluation Tool webpage

  11. Reporting/Information/Tools
         • ASRS - Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) paper-based forms & internet based
         • ASRS - Aviation Safety Reporting System
         • AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Accident Database - generates a list of accidents
         • AC 145-xxx (pg. 19) Evaluation Program Audit tools produced
            by the Medallion Foundation to be a good foundation for their
            organization's safety assurance processes.
         • Data Reporting/Tracking software.  Most are online subscription-based programs; some provide online SMS training which we do not recommend except for "reoccurring training".  Training directly demonstrates the corporate culture to not only your employees but the customers.  Hands-on in-person training reinforces the corporate policy and culture that safety is important and that resources are allocated to SMS with no shortcuts.  Hands on training always brings increased knowledge that is only gained by human interaction.

  12. SMS Software
    • ATCV recommends SMS Pro™ for a complete, easy to use and flexible SMS software program, which can be tailored to your organization. It is designed specifically for the aviation industry; is very price competitive; customer service is great; and is flexible. SMS Pro is free for organizations with 10 or less employees. 

    • ATC Vantage's PDF chart listing dozens of various SMS Software Tools & Resources with descriptions, links (some free)



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