What Is Aviation Safety

Aviation safety is the condition that affected elements are protected from hazards and risks arising in the operating environment. These affected elements may include:

  • Operations personnel;
  • Customers;
  • Equipment;
  • Environment; and
  • Reputation.

Aviation safety focuses on hazard identification and risk assessment with mitigation strategies to reduce risk to as low as reasonably practical (ALARP). As an aviation service provider's safety culture matures, the organization moves from a reactive risk management strategy to proactive risk management. The ultimate goal of aviation safety is for all aviation service providers to achieve the ability to predict events and be prepared to mitigate risk scenarios whenever hazards manifest themselves.

What is aviation safety and who is responsible to maintain safety?

Most laypersons believe the aviation industry already enjoys a high degree of aviation safety. To an outsider or regular consumer, the aviation industry appears highly controlled and very safe. Personnel involved in daily operations, both flight and maintenance, realize that many close calls go unreported and that there is considerable opportunity to increase safety in the aviation industry.

Aviation safety is not just the responsibility of the aviation service providers. Since the aviation industry is an open system that is affected by many environmental variables, aviation safety is also the responsibility of:

  • Governmental organizations providing oversight (civil aviation authorities);
  • ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization);
  • Aircraft and parts manufacturers;
  • Employees;
  • Maintenance organizations;
  • Fuel providers;
  • Customers; and
  • Related service providers.

As stated, aviation service providers operate in an open system that remains exposed to many external variables, including;

  • Political;
  • Legislative;
  • Economic;
  • Technological change;
  • Weather;
  • Cultural norms; and
  • Vendors;

This open system requires constant monitoring to ensure that the highest levels of aviation safety can be realized. Without monitoring and a formal process to manage aviation safety, there can be no assurance that the aviation industry is safe for all stakeholders. To offer this safety assurance, ICAO has mandated in November 2006 that all member states implement formal aviation safety management systems (SMS).