How to set a Record
"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." Edward Murphy
The Safety Management System is a method to have safety taken into account by the whole community, not only its leading frame, in order to create a safety culture and reduce more efficiently the accidents/incidents figures.
Such a system is standard in civil aviation, and may partly explain their well-known and desserved high reputation: "The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requires SMS for the management of safety risk in air operations, maintenance, air traffic services and aerodromes. These requirements have been expanded to include flight training and design and production of aircraft." - FAA
A simplified version, especially designed for Hang Gliding and Paragliding, was unanimously adopted at the 2016 CIVL Plenary. To become plainly efficient, it needs now to be implemented by the National Federations, which for many of them already have some similar system.
On the same subject: Pilot Safety in Gliding
Former Navy commander, Mitchell Shipley was then advanced technology research manager in a university laboratory. He is advanced rated hang glider instructor, lead flight instructor and tug pilot in a main US flying center, and electric towing winches manufacturer. Hang gliding since 1988, he was national team member in the 2013 worlds and then team leader. He practised also skydiving, scubadiving and motorcycling. He manages the US incident report database and has been CIVL safety officer since 2017.
Raymond Caux was hang gliding technical adviser at the FFVL, team member and then team leader in several world championships from 2003 to 2011. CIVL safety officer from 2012 to 2017, he manages these safety pages.
Dennis Pagen has been US delegate, CIVL hang gliding committee member or leader and competition steward for years. He implemented the hang gliding sprog setting policy. He overlooks the CIVL internal forum.
Federation & manufacturer safety corners, safety & psychology related websites...
Safety Management System is a standard in civil aviation. From the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): "The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requires SMS for the management of safety risk in air operations, maintenance, air traffic services and aerodromes. These requirements have been expanded to include flight training and design and production of aircraft."
The SMS designed for professionals is heavy but fortunately, the Royal Dutch Aeronautical Association (KNVvL) has its own one. Henry Lemmen, paragliding safety officer, wrote a light version adapted to the paragliding and hang gliding sections, later shared by Andre Bizot, EHPU safety representative, and freely translated by Raymond Caux (2015). Thanks to the KNVvL and Henry Lemmen, this Safety Handbook is now available to the national hang gliding and paragliding federations, to download here.
Lastly, regulations applicable to air law, air traffic and control in the respective countries are reserved. They must be observed and, where applicable, take precedence over any sport regulations.
Paragliding (PG) and hang gliding (HG) are sports with lots of pleasure to experience. They are also sports with associated risks. The purpose of this handbook is to keep the risks within acceptable limits and to avoid accidents. It describes the structures, methods and measures used by the PG and HG sections to make their sports as safe as possible. It offers a guide showing how these structures, methods and measures function in practice and should be applied. The objective of this handbook is thus to foster a safety culture, where events are actively and systematically analysed and measures are taken to reduce the risk of recurrence.
For the function of these structures, methods and measures, it is important that everyone involved in PG and HG, like (help) instructors, winch men, launch marshals, school owners, board members and pilots, promote flight safety. Everyone must (want to) face the hazards and consequent risks, and be prepared to take appropriate measures to remove or at least reduce these hazards and risks.
Adverse events and particularly accidents can never be ruled out completely, not even with a handbook. But it is possible to learn from events to avoid recurrence. This requires openness of those directly involved and understanding of the others. It is not here about finding someone guilty or blaming those involved, but well about finding together the reasons and then the solutions to reduce the chance of recurrence. This handbook provides guidance for this purpose.
3 Safety Management System
The Safety Management System (SMS) provides a proactive approach to managing safety within associations (shorter thereafter clubs) and instruction bodies (schools), including the necessary organizational structures, responsibilities, procedures and policies.
The purpose of the sections is to:
The aim is thus to create a culture not only made of reporting and analysis of events, but also where pilots can talk to each other about their behaviour regarding flight safety. The SMS is therefore a tool to contribute to the previously mentioned objectives in a systematic way.
The components of the SMS are:
An important principle of the SMS is to pay attention to incidents. By doing so, risks can be better identified and serious accidents can be avoided. This is the preventive approach to safety. It means that not only accidents or near-accidents must be reported, but also events that could lead to a dangerous situation. In addition, the analysis of all events is necessary. This is the reactive approach to safety, that deviates from the normal course of actions.
4 Structure and Tasks
The PG and HG sections consist in boards and commissions, schools, clubs and individual members. The SMS of the section is therefore arranged as follows:
|Often||Several times a season||5|
|Regularly||A few times a season/probable||4|
|Sometimes||Once a season or two seasons/possible||3|
|Rarely||Not known to have happened before, once in five years/small||2|
|Very rarely||Almost inconceivable that it will ever happen/unlikely||1|
|Very big||Fatality/destroyed material||A|
|Big||Safety margins hugely affected, major injuries/damage||B|
|Serious||Safety margins affected, serious injuries/incidents/damage||C|
|Small||Emergency, aircraft limitations exceeded, minor issues||D|
|Very small||Few effects||E|
|Chance \ Effects||Very big||Big||Serious||Small||Very small|
The outcome of the above table is used as input to the next table and it is examined whether measures are needed to reduce the risk:
| 5A, 5B, 5C, 4A, 4B, 3A
|| Unacceptable risk under current circumstances,
measures needed to bring the risk down
| 5D, 5E, 4C, 4D, 4E, 3B, 3C, 3D,
2A, 2B, 2C
| Tolerable risk, the board may require measures
still needed, risk growth monitored
|3E, 2D, 2E, 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E||Acceptable risk, risk growth monitored|
For the top three threats with the highest points numbers, measures are now formulated.
The federation facilitates the recording of events. For this purpose, an event registration system is set up where anyone can report an event. Events can be reported via the website of the section. Event reports are treated strictly confidentially by the SC.
Safety Management System provides tools to improve safety at the organization level (manufacturer, school, club), but the pilots need something more basic for their everyday's pratice. The purpose of the Risk Assessment table is to provide a "safety Swiss knife" to be used while making decision. It can be downloaded here:
Risks can be defined mathematically in a rather simple way, as the likelihood of hazards multiplied by their consequences. To the question "Am I going to hurt myself?", instead of "It should be OK, let's go!", this table is a more structured answer. We are all different at assessing risks, some have a strong preservation instinct, some are self-confident and like thrill. This tool helps taking time, stepping back and watching calmly the situation. It simplifies the hazard identification process of the SMS, making it easy to know by heart and use in an instant, before or during a flight.
|Chance \ Effects||Catastrophic||Manageable||Negligible|
The green zone represents where flying looks reasonable, the conservative approach. In the yellow zone, other factors should be assessed: personal worries (divorce, unemployment), "currency" (first flight of season, new equipment), pressure (short on time), fitness (tiredness), weather... One may enter this zone, but staying aware that the odds are higher. The red zone gives access to the statistics. "Is this flight worth my life, the catastrophy for my family, the mourning of my friends and club, the bad impact on my sport?" The decision should be just not to fly. Some examples: aerobatics cannot be green as an adverse outcome is at least possible, cliff or towed launches cannot either as the effects can be catastrophic.
More generally, being a weather expert is considered as normal for pilots. They should have the same expertise in launch and landing skills, psychology and safety knowledge, especially about the human factor. Meanwhile, let us remind the traffic light: "Am I going to fly in the green zone, or in the yellow or red one?" Let us enjoy the green!
Raymond Caux (2015)
"Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results it gets."
Here is the common section. The most important documents are marked in red.
The 2011 Plenary split Training out to create a Safety Committee and the 2012 Autumn Bureau Meeting replaced it by a Safety Officer.
"The human component is the least reliable component of any system."
|Why Can't We Get a Handle on this Safety Thing?
Reducing Your Risk
Recommendations for Preventing Omission Errors
The Long Haul
How to Survive Gliding?
Fighting Tunnel Vision
Some Brain's Biases
|Mike Meier (USA) 1998
Greg Hamerton (ZA) 2001
David O'Hare (NZ) 2004
Brian Germain (USA) 2004
Bert Willing (CH) 2008
Vic Napier (USA) 2011
Raymond Caux (F) 2013
Raymond Caux (F) 2013
"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." Benjamin Franklin
Luck, Longevity and the Limits of Skills
John Halle (USA) 1995
This Network is a list of National Safety Officers plus some professionals. Only the names are published, the email addresses are in a separated mailing list. Please send the updated name and email of your contact person to the CIVL Safety Officer to register and help keeping this list accurate.
It has happened that people died only because an available equipment failure information had not reached them. The aim of this Network is to avoid that.
Note: Members using explicitly a Safety Management System are marked in green.
Juan Ramon Castillo
|Hang Glider Manufacturers Association
Paraglider Manufacturers Association
Cross Country Magazine
Sport Aviation Publications
Hans Bausenwein & David Humphrey
This incidents types list is a synthesis of syntheses of several national overall practice incidents databases, running over several decades. Some sources have been lost, however the synthesis remains. Sorting the categories and especially the solution proposals are subjective (R. Caux). The list is of course open. Fly safe.
|lack of oxygen|
|need to pee|
|white dots on retina|
|visual flaw (midair path)|
|scubadiving less than 12 hours before flight|
|bad physical shape|
|lack of sleeping|
|wounds on ground|