Planning SMS Implementation for Aviation Service Providers (ICAO Phase 1) 

Phase I of an SMS implementation typically begins with aviation service providers designing their unique framework to satisfy civil aviation authorities' SMS requirements, such as those mandated by ICAO, FAA, EASA or Transport Canada. Since each company is different, each SMS program will be unique.

During the SMS planning phase, top management ensures SMS requirements are integrated into everyday business processes and work activities. Several SMS implementation tasks in Phase 1 and Phase 2 can be managed simultaneously. For example, the company can start to implement their reactive risk management processes simultaneously, such as a Web-based hazard reporting database program such as SMS Pro™. In tandem with implementing the reactive risk management processes, you can begin to deliver training relevant to your hazard reporting, which will then supplement your total training program for the reactive risk management.

Phase 1 of the SMS implementation process focuses on developing the accountability framework for your SMS program. This is the time to identify the "Accountable Executive," and assignment of responsibilities and safety accountabilities of key safety personnel, notably the managers.

ICAO Aviation SMS Gap Analysis Tools & Process


Phase I of an SMS implementation plan should also include the gap analysis. From this gap analysis, aviation service providers determine the current status of their safety management processes. In every case, organizations will find "low hanging fruit," or items that can be fixed with very little effort. The gap analysis can be conducted using paper-based checklist, excel spreadsheets, or Web-based software programs such as SMS Pro. The gap analysis is a great tool/method to monitor continuous improvement for your implemented SMS program.

Results from the gap analysis provide necessary information for developing detailed plans to improve existing safety management processes. These plans evolve into the SMS implementation plan, which will include timelines and priorities of key safety activities. Documenting these activities is a task that should never be overlooked. The saying, "If it isn't documented, it didn't happen," should be remembered.

In closing, here is a checklist of the ICAO's SMS Implementation plan for Phase 1.

  • Identify the Accountable Executive and the safety accountabilities of managers.
  • Identify the person (or planning group) within the organization responsible for implementing the SMS.
  • Describe the system
  • Conduct a gap analysis
  • Develop an SMS implementation plan
  • Develop documentation relevant to safety policy and objectives.
  • Develop and establish means for safety communication.

SMS Pro™ has many Web-based database modules to help you manage, document and communicate these requirements.