Safety Management System and Management System — the integrated approach

1  Management System versus Safety Management System

Safety management seeks to proactively identify hazards and to mitigate the related safety risks before they result in aviation accidents and incidents. Safety management enables an organisation to manage its activities in a more systematic and focused manner. When an organisation has a clear understanding of its role and contribution to aviation safety, it can prioritise safety risks and more effectively manage its resources and obtain optimal results.

The EU requirements for a safety management system (SMS) are embedded into the management system (MS) framework. Such framework addresses the core elements of the ICAO SMS as defined in Appendix 2 to ICAO Annex 19, while promoting an integrated approach to the management of an organisation. Further, it facilitates the introduction of the additional safety management components, building upon the existing MS, rather than adding those components as a separate framework. This approach encourages organisations to embed safety management and risk-based decision-making into all their activities, instead of superimposing another system onto their existing MS and governance structure. In addition, if the organisation holds multiple organisation certificates within the scope of the EASA Basic Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2018/1139), it may choose to implement a single MS to cover all of its activities. An integrated MS may not only be used to capture multiple certification requirements, but also to cover other business MSs, such as security, occupational health, and environmental management systems. Integration will limit duplication and exploit synergies by managing safety risks across multiple activities. Organisations may determine the best means to structure their MSs to suit their business and organisational needs. 

The core part of the EU MS framework focuses on what is essential for safety management by mandating the organisation to:

  • clearly define accountabilities and responsibilities;
  • establish a safety policy and the related safety objectives;
  • implement an occurrence reporting system that meets the requirements defined in Regulation (EU) No 376/2014
  • implement internal safety reporting procedures in line with ‘just culture’ principles;
  • ensure the identification of aviation safety hazards posed by its activities, ensure their evaluation, and the management of associated risks, including:
    • taking action to mitigate the risks, and
    • verifying the effectiveness of each action taken to mitigate the risks;
  • monitor compliance, while considering any additional requirements that are applicable to the organisation;
  • keep its personnel trained, competent, and informed about significant safety issues; and
  • document all the MS key processes.

2  Compliance with the SMS framework and applicability as defined in ICAO Annex 19

The ICAO Annex 19 SMS Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) have been ‘incorporated’ into each EASA aviation domain, the latest being the Initial Airworthiness (Part 21) domain, i.e. ‘Design and Production’, as well as the Continuing Airworthiness (Part-145) domain, i.e. ‘Maintenance’, with the following implementation targets:

  • after 7 March 2025 (See Articles 8 and 9 of Regulation (EU) No 748/2012), all design organisation approval (DOA) and production organisation approval (POA) holders approved in accordance with EASA Part 21, as well as manufacturers having a European technical standard order authorisation (ETSOA) and organisations designing auxiliary power units (APUs) in accordance with EASA Part 21, must have implemented an SMS; and
  • after 2 December 2024 (see Article 4 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1321/2014), all EASA Part-145 approved maintenance organisations must have implemented an SMS.

Further details on the various regulatory provisions within each domain are available on the EASA’s Regulations page, generally under the ‘management system’ requirements for each type of approval.

As explained above, the MS provisions are harmonised across domains so that an organisation holding several EASA approvals can implement a single MS, which will also support the management of risks at the interfaces.

EPAS Volume III - Safety Risk Portfolios 2024 Edition constitutes an important source of safety information to support organisations in the identification of hazards and the assessment of risks.

3  Tool to assess an organisation’s Management System

A cross-domain tool for the assessment of an organisation’s management system (MS), i.e. the EASA management system assessment tool (MSAT), has been developed to:

  • guide organisations through the implementation of an MS;
  • support the (self) assessment of the MS; and
  • promote a common approach to MS assessment and continuous improvement of MS across the different aviation domains.

The MSAT also provides references to the relevant ICAO Annex 19 SARPs (reference and text).

Feedback on the EASA MSAT can be addressed to safety.management [at] easa.europa.eu.