The Importance of Managing Safety Risk in our Aviation System

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Sofema Online (SOL) takes a detailed look at the Aviation Safety Management Risk Management Landscape.

Introduction – What is Risk Management

Risk Management, being a central component of the SMS, plays a vital role in addressing the risk in practical terms.

o Risk Management requires a structured and consistent process of objective analysis.
o In general, Risk Management is expected to provide a structured approach to deliver an appropriate and measured action to ensure a balance between the risk assessment of a given hazard and the practicable risk mitigation.

The objective of Risk Management is to ensure that the risks associated with hazards to the aviation system including but not limited to flight operations are systematically and formally identified, assessed, and managed within acceptable safety levels.

» According to ICAO (ICAO Doc 9859) Risk Management is the:

o Identification
o Analysis and
o Elimination (and/or mitigation to an acceptable or tolerable level)
o Of those hazards, as well as the subsequent risks, that threaten the viability of an organisation.”

» According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA AC No: 120-92B, Safety Management Systems for Aviation Service Providers) “Safety risk management (SRM) is A process within the Safety Management System composed of:

o Describing the system,
o Identifying the hazards, and
o Analyzing,
o Assessing, and controlling the risk.”

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Framework consists of four main components:

o Safety Policy and Objectives
o Safety Risk Management
o Safety Assurance
o Safety Promotion

Reality Check It is not ever going to be possible to eliminate all risks in our aviation system:

o Not all risks can be removed and;
o Not all possible risk mitigation measures are economically practical.

The reality has to be that it is accepted that there will be some residual risk related to the potential harm to people, property, or the environment, to be acceptable this has to be considered tolerable by both the responsible regulatory authorities as well as society at large.

What Do We Expect from a Risk Assessment Process?

o To Identify hazards and assess in terms of their safety criticality and potential to cause harm to our aviation system.
o Risk should be assessed by persons with the appropriate competence using various analytical tools.
o For risks which have a significant degree of exposure it is necessary to engage with risk mitigation which requires the intervention of the business area owner / nominated postholder and ultimately the Accountable Manager.

Next Steps

Sofema Aviation Services and Sofema Online provide multiple courses in support of developing effective Safety Management Systems including an SMS Advanced Techniques for Safety Practitioners - EASA Compliant course. 

Please see for online training & for classroom and webinar training or email for additional training details.

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