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ICAO – Safety management systems (SMS)

As aviation progressed and developed, there came a need for standardisation of safety systems. Many airlines, operators and other organisations had some sort of safety system in place, that they had developed themselves over the years. However there were many that did not have any system in place at all.

These systems were both good and bad and there was no standardisation anywhere throughout the world. ICAO entered into discussions with states and various organisations and they determined that a need existed for a standard system, to be used throughout the world and also at all the various organisations and service operators.

With this in mind, ICAO called a high level safety conference, in 2010 and so the path towards a universal safety management system was started. With traffic predicted to double in the next 15 years, the need to develop a system was urgent. What came from the conference was a need for a new annex – Annex 19 – dedicated to safety management. It was a draft and after much dedicated work and proposals, the Annex was published in 2013 and allied to this was Doc 9859 – Safety management Manual.

ICAO determined that there would be a 2 phase introduction of the system:

Phase 1 was the introduction and determination of what was needed in the Annex. This was voted upon and was adopted by the Council on the 25 Feb 2013. Hence Annex 19 volume 1 was to be applied from the 14 Novewmber 2013.

Phase 2 is the development of enhanced requirements and is an ongoing process.

Safety Management Systems (SMS) is a massive and complicated field. It is on-going and developed as new systems are developed and it is being expanded from airlines, maintenance organisations and Air traffic service providers to aircraft manufacturers now.

Each country, who is a signatory to the ICAO convention, is now required to have a State Safety Plan in place. This is maintained and monitored by the relevant CAA. Within that document it determines who it is applicable to, what must be done to have your own SMS and how to monitor and audit it. It also details who is responsible to have one. In South Africa, this can be found in the CARs under Part 140.

For an organisation to develop their own one, it is nigh impossible without any prior knowledge of the system and how it works. With this in mind, DEAL ALLIANCE, an Aviation Training Organisation, based in Cape Town, with lecture rooms at Signature, has developed a week long SMS course. It is based of ICAO, Annex 19 and also CARs part 140. This determines the syllabus and what is required to be taught.

I have just completed the course, and found it very interesting and comprehensive and well presented by DEAL ALLICANCE owner Debbie Mann, a commercial pilot and instructor, by profession. The syllabus is determined by CAA and composes 40 hours of lectures and practical exercises. A complete handbook is given to all attendees and is yours to keep. 2 exams are written and the required pass mark is 70%. Successful candidates receive a certificate, with CAA endorsement on it.

For those of you interested in safety and its management, I can highly recommend this course. Classes are limited to a max of 4 people. As it is an ICAO based course, students from anywhere in the world are welcome to attend.

For further information contact DEAL ALLIANCE,

Debbie Mann at 082 495819 or via e-mail at


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