An Introduction to Safety Management Systems (SMS)

In an effort to reduce the number of aviation incidents across the aviation industry, Transport Canada has begun to implement Safety Management Systems (SMS).

What is SMS?

Transport Canada defines SMS as “a set of beliefs, practices and procedure for monitoring and improving safety in [an] organisation”.  SMS has the potential of adding bureaucracy and entire layer of work to job descriptions.  However, as Transport Canada has explained that the implementation of this program is designed to be woven into the existing fabric of the organisation and match organisational size, structure, environment, management styles and corporate culture.

Essentially, SMS is the formalization of continually increasing safety through hazard identification and risk management.  As Canadian Aviation College management and staff embark on creating safer flight training environment, it is important to remember that the key to the success of SMS is that the responsibility for safety involves everyone!

What to Report

Any safety concern should be reported, but here are some examples suggested by Transport Canada:

  • high workload during passenger boarding;
  • poor communication between operational areas;
  • crews rushing through checks;
  • inadequate checklists;
  • inadequate tool or equipment control;
  • difficulty obtaining parts;
  • feeling fatigued on certain schedules;
  • NOT AMS not being passed to crew;
  • in-flight turbulence;
  • unsafe ground movements;
  • poor communication within maintenance;
  • poorly designed task cards;
  • lack of emergency equipment, procedures and training;
  • emergency exit paths blocked;
  • vehicles left in fire lanes or other unauthorised area;
  • unruly passengers;
  • confusing signs;
  • poor lighting;
  • dispatching overloaded aircraft; and
  • failing to maintain operational control.

Where to Report

An anonymous reporting system has been developed and appears on our website.You can have your identity completely confidential yet still contribute to the safety culture by using the this anonymous reporting access.  Email is also an excellent to way to communicate with the SMO (Chief Flight Instructor).

Non-Punitive or No Blame Reporting Policy

The reporting process is not a search to assign blame in an incident, but rather, it is a search for the reasons and cause behind the incident.  By working to understand how an incident occurred, it allows for a learning environment and ultimately a safe environment both for reporting and communication, as well as for flying.  Consequently, to ensure safety is paramount in all flight operations, no disciplinary actions will be taken unless it is a case of wilful negligence, criminal intent or includes the use of illicit substances.  Utilise the drop box in the front office to make reports anonymously if so desired.

Canadian Aviation College’s Commitment to Safety

Canadian Aviation College is committed to continually improving safety and will accomplish this through the implementation of a Safety Management System, as per the Canadian Aviation Regulations, that matches the size and complexity of the flight training operation.  From all levels of management down to student pilots, safety is to be promoted as the primary concern in all activities surround flight operations.

At the core of CAC’s system will be the following principles:

  1. CAC management will be proactive in the identification of safety risks and the elimination of injury to students and staff.
  2. All information related to safety issues will be shared with all students and staff.
  3. No disciplinary action will be taken against any staff member or students involved a safety occurrence or incident, except where there is wilful negligence, criminal intent, or use of illicit substances.

If you have any further questions regarding safety or CAC’s SMS, please do not hesitate to contact us at


Transport Safety Board of Canada Reports

Transport Canada SMS