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Strategic objectives for Safety Management Systems (SMS) are set out below.

CAA capabilities

Assessing effectiveness

Continued oversight of SMS is required to reduce duplication of other oversight activities, while still providing assurance that an organisation's SMS remains effective. This will allow SMS evaluation to replace the need to confirm compliance with the relevant EASA management system implementing rules.

All CAA teams involved in SMS oversight will share issues and lessons learnt internally through SMS Steering Group representatives, and SMS Focal Points from across the CAA. They are responsible for monitoring SMS oversight activities and providing feedback to the rest of their teams. This should include feedback to the SMS Programme Lead, who has overall responsibility for SMS oversight processes, procedures and tools.

The SMS Programme Lead will gather feedback and ensure that it is captured and shared in refresher training, and that oversight processes and tools are kept current. This will include a review of the EASA Management System Assessment Tool, and how the CAA could use this in future.

Close Assessing effectiveness

CAA staff refreshing training

It is important for CAA Staff to maintain their SMS competencies as regulations change and our understanding of SMS evolves. This will be achieved through regular refresher training and briefings. This provides an opportunity to bring together CAA colleagues to share safety management experiences. SMS Focal Points can support this by providing more regular updates that are specific to their industry sectors.

The need has been identified for CAA Staff involved in SMS oversight to become more practised in assessing management of change documentation and safety cases. Although there is a management of change process and evaluation guide, this has not always been used consistently. This will be promoted as part of our refresher training and become routinely used when assessing proposed changes.

Most EASA Airworthiness organisations will require SMS within the next 5 years. Airworthiness staff must be competent in performing SMS evaluations at an appropriate time, as training staff too early will make it more difficult for them to remain current. A core group of airworthiness SMS Focal Points will be trained up to carry out the initial SMS assessments for all airworthiness organisations (initially continuing airworthiness management organisations) until the remaining airworthiness staff can be trained up.

Close CAA staff refreshing training

Aligning results with Performance Based Oversight tools

SMS effectiveness and the risks identified through oversight activities are a key input to the Performance-Based Oversight (PBO) processes. This needs to be done as seamlessly as possible, with the PBO entity performance tool aligned with the SMS evaluation tool. This will support the PBO Internal Review Meetings' discussion of SMS, based on an objective assessment of an entity's SMS. This would also enable us to have a global influence and promote an integrated SMS / PBO approach to other NAAs using similar evaluation approaches.

Close Aligning results with Performance Based Oversight tools

Continuous improvement of SMS interfaces

The SMS evaluation tool will be updated and used to capture Human Factors, compliance monitoring, Safety Reporting, and eventually cyber security. This will remove the need for separate oversight activities for these areas and strengthen the understanding of how they interact.

The assessment of safety culture remains an activity that needs to be considered both in supporting SMS evaluation, and as an input into the performance based oversight (PBO) processes. This will require additional training on how these subjects are to be assessed and captured as part of the SMS evaluation tool.

Close Continuous improvement of SMS interfaces

Industry capabilities

We will continue to support the UK industry by guiding and influencing its implementation and ongoing development of SMS. This will ensure that organisations are compliant with EASA requirements, and work towards effective, and continuously improving SMS.

Continuous review of SMS guidance

It is important that we provide industry (and CAA staff) with up to date guidance material. 

The information our website also includes links to guidance material issued by other organisations such as EASA, ICAO or the Safety Management International Collaboration Group.

Close Continuous review of SMS guidance

Sharing information and innovation

Our industry is often at the forefront of SMS development and the CAA will seek out such innovations so that they can be shared.  This will be carried out through specific visits to review innovative approaches and by holding an annual information sharing opportunity to bring industry safety managers together.

The outputs will be communicated to a wider audience through safety promotional material and the CAA website.  

Close Sharing information and innovation

Global influence

By leading thinking and innovation on safety management systems, we will continue to influence SMS globally and work towards improving global aviation safety.

Promoting our approach

Our approach to SMS and its oversight focuses on SMS effectiveness. As more aviation authorities embrace a similar approach to SMS, sharing our extensive experience of SMS and its oversight will reinforce the move from assessing SMS compliance towards SMS effectiveness. Through the Safety Management International Collaboration group and our work with EASA we have maintained a leading international presence on SMS evaluation tool development. This also reinforces the importance of SMS effectiveness and safety performance being at the heart of performance-based oversight.

Our State Safety Programme involves many different activities and there is a need to clarify how each of these activities relate to each other. This would identify the relationships, interfaces and overlaps between the various activities and how they should be integrated. These include; Human Factors, Safety Management Systems, safety culture, the CAA's internal SMS, Performance Based Oversight, safety data gathering and analysis and the State Safety Programme. Helping to clarify these relationships and interfaces may help other States that also struggle with how these need to be integrated as part of the State Safety Programme.

There remains the challenge for ICAO to take the work of the Safety Management Panel in developing Annex 19 and the ICAO Safety Management Manual to providing practical experience and support. This is where CAA International can play an influencing role by assisting and supporting overseas States as part of the UK SSP to protect UK citizens abroad.

Close Promoting our approach

Advancing SMS thinking

SMS is an evolving subject as organisations gather more experiences and identify new challenges. It is important that the CAA remains aware of emerging and innovating approaches to safety management and to determine when they are mature enough to be shared, promoted and incorporated into the UK. These will include developments from academia, other regulators, trade associations or individual organisations.

Close Advancing SMS thinking


Delivery of our action plan will lead to improved SMS competencies and capabilities within the CAA and increase the effectiveness of SMS within the UK aviation industry. This will also continue to support our global influence in how SMS is implemented and evaluated.

The success of this strategy will be measured through evidence of a maturing approach towards SMS within UK aviation.

This should result in:

  • Improved levels of SMS competency of all aviation personnel;
  • Regular SMS refresher training sessions and briefings;
  • CAA staff being competent to robustly assess management of change documentation and safety cases;
  • Development of a core group of airworthiness SMS Focal Points;
  • The CAA SMS evaluation tool being aligned with the PBO entity performance tool, leading to more informed use of available data;
  • The assessment of human factors, compliance monitoring, safety reporting and cyber security becoming an integrated part of SMS oversight;
  • SMS oversight activities including assessment of human performance principles associated with the specific task and environment;
  • SMS oversight is delivered in a proportionate manner;
  • Industry implementing SMS in a way that is suitable to their size, nature and complexity;
  • SMS guidance material being regularly reviewed and updated in line with developments in SMS approaches;
  • An annual information sharing meeting being held with industry safety managers;
  • CAA remaining a key stakeholder in the Safety Management International Collaboration group;
  • The CAA actively supports developments in SMS within EASA regulations and guidance material;
  • Industry demonstrating the continuous improvement of their SMS;
  • Greater collaboration and awareness within all areas of the aviation industry to improve SMS understanding and application;
  • The CAA being recognised as a leading authority in the development of SMS and actively supporting, developing and promoting improvements in SMS knowledge within the aviation industry.
  • The removal of any oversight duplication between the SMS assessment using the SMS evaluation tool and confirming compliance with the relevant EASA management system requirements.
    Support and advice is provided to emerging technology activities on how SMS should or could be applied.