Here at Volocopter, we are doing everything we can to ensure safety across the board, every single day: in our products, in the workplace, and throughout our urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem. But why do we need to manage safety – and how (well) are we doing that?
Safety always comes first
These days, no company would get very far without a solid safety management system (SMS). And in the aviation circles that Volocopter moves in, there are no two ways about it. Why? Because in 2022 EASA (the EU’s Aviation Safety Agency) enforced new SMS requirements for companies seeking to achieve DOA and POA certification (design organisation and production organisation approval, respectively).
But besides the regulatory requirements, as the UAM pioneer we want to do right by our products and our people – after all, one simply cannot exist without the other. So, not only are we focusing on product safety, we’re also monitoring the overall safety of our people and activities. That’s actually why we’ve made “Safety First” one of our six core values – and launched IQSMS, our anonymous and confidential reporting tool for all. Because at the end of the day, we don’t just want to be the first to bring UAM to life, we also want to do it better than anyone else and to the highest safety standards.
Our safety management system is thus designed by our people for our people, all of whom can report any concerns they might have. This delivers the intel the Safety team needs, enabling them to make the necessary tweaks as they work hard to get this confidential reporting tool off the ground and make Volocopter an even safer place to be.
So, who’s behind it all?
Built from the ground up
“IQSMS is our one-stop solution for global operations, and we’re incredibly proud to have partnered with Advanced Safety and Quality Solutions (ASQS) to build it from the ground up,” smiles Frank, our Corporate Safety Manager.
Wondering how it works? Well, our dedicated Safety team uses IQSMS to manage any and all safety aspects at Volocopter. Right now, that refers to all the data we obtain from our people. And in the future it will be expanded to include all the aircraft data, thus enabling predictive maintenance, and feeding into our UAM infrastructure VoloIQ. Specifically, this will see the system delivering automatic reports on safety issues while our aircraft is in flight.
To make this possible, our team of safety superstars is set to continue growing. Together, they’ve created the Safety Moment, a forum for Volocopter employees to discuss anything that may have happened during their activities and learn from it, or to raise a safety-related topic that’s close to their hearts. The team has already gleaned useful learnings in this area: “Initial meetings have underlined the importance of these sessions being hosted by department heads and team leaders, rather than by us here on the Safety team.” And the logic stands to reason: "This is a much more effective approach: instead of a top-down tactic, the team leads can lead by example and so ensure the messages reach everyone.”
Another key consideration is the professional diversity of Volocopter employees. Unlike the Safety team, some new recruits only transitioned into aviation upon joining Volocopter. So, it’s crucial for the team to ensure everyone is up to speed on all safety-related topics that pertain to the existing aviation industry as well as to its nascent UAM branch.
To help everyone feel comfortable with alerting the team of any safety-related concerns, the IQSMS confidential reporting tool is available as both a desktop version and a dedicated app. The team wants to promote the app to ensure greater reporting flexibility and will shortly be launching a dedicated safety awareness campaign – aptly titled “Safety Firsthand” – to ensure their message hits home with everyone.
The campaign will thus seek to combat the teething problems that the SMS is experiencing. But the team also has its work cut out in another way – after all, a fully functional system doesn’t simply materialize overnight. In fact, it can take a good few years to set up even a basic iteration. But that’s not a problem for the hardworking team: “We’re trying to do as much as possible now instead of later so that the value of safety can become ingrained in the company culture and be almost second nature for us all,” says Emilia.
One challenge the team is facing is the incredible pace at which Volocopter is growing. While growth is as dynamic as it is welcome, the team is finding it hard to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to safety. That means there’s always a need to train new recruits.
The Safety team is facing this challenge head on by running onboarding sessions on safety for all new employees. They also plan to roll out an e-learning on-demand training course that’s being designed as we write in order to refresh people’s memories on the salient points of safety.
Hitting the campaign trail
So, what's next for the Safety team? Well, what they’ve realized is that while people do appreciate the value of this topic, they don’t always know how that translates to their day-to-day work. That’s why they’ll soon be hitting the Volocopter campaign trail to spread the word about their passion for IQSMS through the “Safety Firsthand” safety awareness campaign. It promises an educational take on the topic that's as interactive as it is fun.
The hope is that the Safety Moment sessions become part and parcel of key company meetings, where employees can share information on the topic and get answers to all their burning questions. Ultimately, safety for all Volocopter employees needs to become the tangible and ingrained concept it deserves to be.
The entire Safety team is delighted to be pressing ahead with its safety mission and is excited about what the future will bring.
BONUS TIP: Do you like what you’ve read and think you might like to be part of this exciting team? The good news is that we have a current vacancy for a Manager for Occurrence Reporting and Safety Promotion. You can apply right now – and be sure to keep your eye out for additional positions in the near future!