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Sudbury airport reinforces culture of safety

Margaret Menczel hired last September as manager of regulatory compliance and safety management systems
Margaret Menczel was hired on at the Greater Sudbury Airport last September as the manager of regulatory compliance and safety management systems. (Supplied photo)

Greater Sudbury Airport has brought on some new expertise to enhance safety at the facility.

Margaret Menczel was hired in September, 2018 as the airport’s new manager of regulatory compliance and safety management systems.

It’s a brand new position designed to keep the airport in line with Transport Canada’s safety regulations and to ensure continuous improvement.

“Aviation safety is often difficult to see,” Menczel said in an email. “It is not as easy to identify as wearing a safety vest, seatbelt or complying with a posted speed limit. Aviation safety is something we create by how we operate the airport.”

That could include everything from managing wildlife to prevent collisions with aircraft to using winter maintenance activities to ensure aircraft can land, take off and manoeuvre on the airfield, she noted.

Canada is considered a leader in aviation safety, something Menczel attributes to Canadians’ embrace of technology and innovation, as well as having a wealth of experienced pilots, skilled at flying through diverse climates and terrain.

She also points to the close proximity of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is headquartered in Montréal.

“Most importantly, in my opinion, is how engaged the industry is in aviation safety and the relationship the industry has with Transport Canada,” she said.

Airports nationwide have been mandated by Transport Canada since about 2009 to have Safety Management Systems (SMS) in place.

Transport Canada reports that, through technological improvements, the incidence of aviation-related accidents has levelled off over the last few decades.

The majority of modern-day accidents are attributable to human factors. And that’s where Menczel and the SMS come in, to ensure the airport is up to date on all regulations and that safety management principles are "incorporated into the way we do business."

After graduating from Georgian College’s aviation management co-op program, Menczel was hired on as a project assistant with Transport Canada before moving on to a management system specialist position.

In that role, she worked as an inspector, checking airlines and maintenance organizations for SMS regulations.

In 2010, after becoming a civil aviation safety inspector for aerodromes and air navigation, she transferred her skills and experience to the airport environment, inspecting airports for compliance with national regulations and standards.

Menczel said her first priority in Sudbury was to introduce a regulatory compliance program, which involves self-inspections to ensure the airport is meeting industry requirements.

“Formerly, when a Transport Canada inspector would conduct an on-site inspection, he or she would have to take measurements, review records, and interview staff to establish compliance,” Menczel said.

“With the implementation of self-inspections, we have already compiled the information, which is recorded on inspection records that are on hand and available for review.”

Menczel said it was “humbling” to realize how much she still had to learn about airport operations.

She was on hand for Greater Sudbury Airport’s participation in Canadian Airports Safety Week, held June 17 to 21, which promotes safety work practices among airport employees.

This year’s themes included: aviation safety; hazard reporting; airside marking, signage and how to prevent accidents and incursions; and foreign object debris walk.

The annual event is led by the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) in collaboration with 29 participating airports across the country.