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Given the increasing complexity of the global air transportation system and its interrelated aviation activities required to assure the safe operation of aircraft, ICAO supports the continued evolution of a proactive strategy to improve safety performance. The foundation of this proactive safety strategy is based on the implementation of a State safety programme (SSP) that systematically addresses safety risks
While the elimination of aircraft accidents and/or serious incidents remains the ultimate goal, it is recognized that the aviation system cannot be completely free of hazards and associated risks. Human activities or human-built systems cannot be guaranteed to be absolutely free from operational errors and their consequences. Therefore, safety is a dynamic characteristic of the aviation system, whereby safety risks must be continuously mitigated. It is important to note that the acceptability of safety performance is often influenced by domestic and international norms and culture. As long as safety risks are kept under an appropriate level of control, a system as open and dynamic as aviation can still be managed to maintain the appropriate balance between production and protection.
The ―Swiss-Cheese‖ Model, developed by Professor James Reason, illustrates that accidents involve successive breaches of multiple system defences. These breaches can be triggered by a number of enabling factors such as equipment failures or operational errors.
The aviation system includes product and service providers and State organizations. It is a complex system that requires an assessment of the human contribution to safety and an understanding of how human performance may be affected by its multiple and interrelated components.
Effective SMS implementation by the product or service provider as well as effective SMS oversight by the State are both dependent upon a clear, mutual understanding of errors and violations and the differentiation between the two. The difference between errors and violations lies in intent. While an error is unintentional, a violation is a deliberate act or omission to deviate from established procedures, protocols, norms or practices.
Data-based decision making is one of the most important facets of any management system. The type of safety data to be collected may include accidents and incidents, events, non-conformance or deviations and hazard reports. The quality of the data that are used to enable effective decision making must be considered throughout SSP and SMS development and implementation.