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Safety Management Systems (SMS)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada concludes that Transport Canada does not always provide effective oversight of aviation companies transitioning to safety management systems, while some companies are not even required to have one. This includes the lessons to be learnt for Sport and Recreational pilots.


Safety Management Systems (SMS) principals allow aviators on their own to identify hazards, manage risks, and develop and follow effective safety processes. Canada's large commercial carriers have been required to have an SMS since 2005. However, for smaller operators, such as those which do aerial work or provide air taxi or commuter services, implementation has been delayed to provide additional time to refine procedures, guidance material and training. A large segment of the aviation population however (sport and recreational pilots) which could significantly benefit from the industry’s transition to SMS has gone unaddressed.

Having said this, and in fairness to our responsible regulator, it has never been the intention or mandate of Transport Canada’s SMS implementation plan to include sport and recreational pilots. This being said however, we are missing a tremendous safety benefit to this segment of the aviation population if we keep these important “lessons learnt” at the commercial aviation level.

Safety Management System is simple a safety management tool in which the operator (in this case, the sport or recreational pilot) continually examines the way in which the aircraft is being operated and actively searches for weak areas in their own “personal safety systems” Questions such as:

  • Am I current?
  • Can I do it safer?
  • Am I as safe as I can be?
  • Have I identified the particular RISKS involved in my own flight activities?
  • Am I managing those risks effectively?
  • Can I improve my safety performance?
  • What have I learned from others mistakes?
  • What have I learned from my own mistakes?
  • Am I using my aviation educational and support recourses regularly?


An understanding and appreciation of the fact that SMS is simply a more effective way to ensure that any pilot’s operation and environment is as safe as it can be. If gaps in our personal safety system are discovered, that they are addressed in a way that ensures that they are addressed and that they do not reoccur.

Smart Pilot Remarks

SMS is a proven, systematic and effective way in which safety can be managed. Whether you pilot an ultra-light or a Boeing 777, we need to continually ask the questions listed above. While mass, momentum and gravity and human behaviour are the predominant universal forces that all pilot’s deal with, the price we pay for the freedom of flight is constant vigilance.

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Nous tenons à souligner le soutien financier du gouvernement du Canada tout particulièrement le Fonds des nouvelles initiatives en Recherche et sauvetage (FNI RS)