A quality department

A quality department

It would probably be safe to assume that quality assurance, occupational safety and environmental management go hand-in-hand when an airport is the topic of discussion. One might also assume that, with the scope of such important responsibilities being so wide, the airport in question would be teeming with professionals from this department.

However, at Lanseria International Airport, the job falls to quality assurance and safety manager Etienne Smulian and his dedicated team of three staff members. Smulian’s department, known at Lanseria as the QSE Department (for Quality Assurance, Occupational Safety and Environmental Management), encompasses Lanseria International Airport, its numerous management departments, operator tenant-base and the surrounding environment that make-up Lanseria as a whole. 

The QSE department forms a very important component and regulatory link to fulfil the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) requirements for airports. Aviation, by nature, is not rated a complete environmentally-friendly business – due to the obvious noise pollution, hazchem use and the unavoidable carbon emission levels produced by aircraft.

Smulian says airport authorities go to great lengths to establish the best means required, as per governing regulations, to deal effectively with areas within their control. Amongst others, such challenges as effective hazardous waste management and satisfactory disposal thereof, is imperative and of constant concern. “This gets processed daily by our modern on-airport waste recycling facility,” Smulian notes. “Also, unlikely but possible fuel-spill contamination hazards are high on our priorities of control and monitoring, to avoid any chances of environmental contamination by such or other hazchem substances,” he continues.

From a family of aviators, and with 25 years in aviation, Smulian is well-informed for the job. “I started my career in 1987 with the Lanseria Airport Fire Service and remained there for a total of 11 years,” he says. “I then moved to the newly established Apron department, and started the Apron Management Unit in 2002. During 2007 the challenge of establishing the QA department took hold and three years later lead to the now established QSE department.”

Smulian’s experiences have provided a good grounding and an all-round insight and knowledge base that he still applies today. He has undergone training in airport disaster management and the management of aviation safety, among others.

On the quality assurance side, his major duties are to facilitate the airport’s legal compliances and the development of procedural manuals, which include standard operating procedures and requirements as stipulated by the SACAA. He also facilitates the application processes for the Airport Licence to the CAA that also includes other regulatory requirements.  

Occupational safety is no different. “The Occupational Health and Safety Act, together with the safety compliances as governed under the Civil Aviation Regulations (SACAR) bring a singular objective but interesting dual function to administrate,” he says. “Another aspect is to ensure compliance with environmental legislation – basically overseeing the full framework of environmental and ecological responsibilities pertinent to the airport.

 “The airport’s legal requirements keep me busy. It’s obviously greatly important in terms of QSE. Our health and safety officers perform safety audits and inspections, and environmental monitoring, around the airport daily.”

Last year, under his leadership, the Lanseria QA department was recognised by the Civil Aviation Authority for the airport’s QA-manual standards as well as its specific endeavours of risk-management reporting to the authority – “a first” as noted by the Authority – yet another achievement under Lanseria’s belt!

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