Saturday, April 6, 2013

ICAO's Four Pillars or Components of Aviation Safety Management Systems (SMS)

Most civil aviation authorities base their safety management regulations on ICAO's four pillars. Below is a list of ICAO's four pillars (or components) and their associated ICAO reference.

ICAO's Four Pillars (or Components) of Aviation Safety Management Systems

ICAO four pillars for aviation safety management systems

Safety Policy and Objectives 

Management commitment and responsibility: Commitment of the senior management to safety is reflected in a policy statement, which is signed by the Accountable Executive.
 (ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 1.1) 

Safety accountabilities: A statement of accountabilities clearly defines safety responsibilities of
managers and employees at different levels in the organization, with effective deputation of responsibilities established for operationally critical areas when principal office holders are absent.
(ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 1.2)

Appointment of key safety personnel: The Safety Manager, in most organizations, will be the person to whom the Accountable Executive has assigned the daily oversight functions of the SMS.
(ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 1.3)

Coordination of emergency response planning: Service providers implement an Emergency Response Program (ERP) that includes contingency plans to ensure proper response throughout the organization when an emergency situation arises. This may not necessarily involve an actual aircraft accident, but should include a business continuity contingency plan.
 (ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 1.4) 
ICAO four pillars for aviation safety management system

SMS documentation: Safety management activities must be documented appropriately and be available to all employees.
(ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 1.5)

Safety Risk Management (SRM) 

Hazard identification: The airline must maintain processes that ensure that operational hazards are identified for all operational activities. Hazard identification is typically based on a combination of reactive, proactive, and predictive safety management methods.
 (ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 2.1)

Risk assessment and mitigation: Individual hazards are analyzed; their consequences are assessed and communicated throughout the organization. Mitigation actions must be developed for those hazards presenting unacceptable operational risk. 
 (ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 2.2)
Safety Assurance as one ICAO four pillars for aviation safety management system

Safety Assurance (SA) 

Safety performance monitoring and measurement: SA activities focus on assessing the health of the organization, with an emphasis on safety. Specific goals for improvements in all areas should be set for all senior operational managers. SA should include monitoring of external sources of safety information and include participation in regional safety groups or safety data sharing organizations.
(ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 3.1) 

Management of change: External or internal changes may introduce new hazards to operational activities. Processes must exist to manage organizational responses to regulatory changes, major changes in operational procedures, or new activities such as new airport destinations. Safety reporting systems should have processes established to identify new risks and actively monitor performance in new areas of the operation.
 (ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 3.2) 

Continuous improvement of the SMS: SA utilizes quality tools such as internal evaluations or independent audits to assess organizational health from a safety perspective. Onsite assessments of operational management systems on a recurring basis provide opportunities for continuous improvement of processes and procedures for each functional area of the airline.
(ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 3.3)

Safety Promotion as one ICAO four pillars for aviation safety management system

Safety Promotion 

Training and education: The airline must identify safety training requirements for each level of management and for each employee group. Safety training for operational personnel should address safety responsibilities, including complying with all operating and safety procedures, recognizing and reporting hazards, and ultimately ensuring that employees have the knowledge and skills to safely complete work activities.
(ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 4.1)

Safety communication: Communication of safety information is a key responsibility for the Safety Manager. Continuous improvement and learning is accomplished through the sharing of lessons learned from  investigations, hazard report analysis, and operational safety assessments. Feedback to operational personnel, such as examples of procedural improvements as a result of safety reports, is an essential feature of safety communications.
 (ICAO Annex 6, 3.3.5; Appendix 7, 4.2)

About NWDS - founded in 2003 by six software engineers, NorthWest Data Solutions (NWDS) provides custom computer programming and systems design services. NWDS creates many types of software, including e-commerce, financial, defense, engineering, logistics, aviation and more. In 2007, NWDS developed SMS Pro™ a web based SMS application that supports an organization's overall SMS through safety reporting, safety documentation, safety risk management and safety assurance. SMS Pro™ is currently used by aviation organizations in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East to help manage their SMS programs. NWDS continues to support SMS Pro™ and add new functionality. NWDS offers custom contract programming services in the U.S. and Canada and is managed by Chris Howell, one of the founders. Their headquarters is in Anchorage, Alaska. For information on NWDS visit their website at and to learn more about SMS Pro™.