How Long to Implement an Aviation SMS Program

As a general rule, it takes approximately four to seven years to implement aviation SMS programs, with an average of about five years, though these numbers can vary depending on the size and existing safety culture in an organization. Each of the 4 Phases of aviation SMS implementation will vary in scope, size, and complexity of implementation. Here's about how long each Phase takes to implement:

  • Phase 1: about 1 year
  • Phase 2: about 1 year
  • Phase 3: about 1-2 years, though it can take as much as 3 years
  • Phase 4: about 1-2 years, though it can take as much as 3 years

Some organizations will attempt to rush through implementation and worry about building safety culture later. Other organizations will find a balance between building safety culture and implementing the SMS program. And finally, few organizations will ensure that the SMS is implemented only at the pace which the safety culture can sustain the SMS.

Implementing an Aviation SMS program is a bid deal, and it can take a while. Indeed, in sub-par safety culture or toxic work environments, full SMS implementation can prove impossible.