Scholarships aim for safer skies

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Airport ground crew check an aircraft.
Airport ground crew check an aircraft | CASA

New initiative supports professional development of SMS management

Addressing safety issues to prevent accidents – rather than reacting to them – is the essence of safety management systems (SMS).

And with SMS now a CASA requirement, it’s more important than ever for aviation organisations to have qualified and dedicated aviation safety managers.

So, CASA is excited to announce the winners of the inaugural safety manager scholarship program.

Three scholarships – worth up to $5,000 each – were awarded to Georgina Chisholm from Heli-Muster in Katherine, Northern Territory, Sean Innes of McDermott Aviation in Cooroy, Queensland, and Jai Bradford at Hamilton Island Air, also in Queensland.

Panel chair and aviation safety advisor Terry Horsam said the quality of the applicants was extremely high.

‘We had more than 50 applicants, which really exceeded all of our expectations,’ he said.

‘The eventual winners were from such diverse backgrounds and honestly, the best part of the whole process for me was actually ringing them up and letting them know they were our winners. They were all genuinely excited and appreciative.

‘It was evident they all share an enthusiasm for aviation safety and each of them knew exactly how they were going to use their scholarship funds towards furthering their career.

‘They’re enthusiastic about essentially representing CASA as an aviation safety ambassador and promoting aviation safety to the industry.’

Terry, who chaired the selection panel alongside safety systems inspector Greg Marshall and strategic engagement advisor Prue Zamora, says there’s been a stronger focus in the past on gearing scholarships and incentives towards pilots.

‘The industry is more than just people who fly planes,’ he says. ‘The safety manager and the aircraft maintenance engineers’ scholarships show that we are supporting the aviation community as a whole and we are recognising SMS management as a profession.

‘We know that safety managers, especially in smaller companies, often find themselves having to wear several different hats in their roles. So, it’s important that they’re provided with sufficient and similar opportunities as others in the industry, as well as the time and resources to do their job properly.’