Aviation Safety Management Systems (ASMS)

All RAAus flight training schools are now required to have an aviation safety management system (ASMS) that is regularly reviewed for your Flight Training Operations. Safety management systems allow identification of hazards, tracking of safety performance, and ensure promotion of safety within your flight training environment.

Now that all flight training schools have an ASMS in place, it is time to review your ASMS and update this so that the processes and procedures are suitable and relevant within your operations. One significant disadvantage of the standardised template which was made available by RAAus, is that in a number of cases this becomes a document which sits on the shelf and is not integrated within the daily business operations. Your ASMS should be relevant for the size and complexity for your FTS and should be updated regularly.

To assist in making your ASMS a more practical document, we have some practical tips and resources for CFIs and Instructors to consider for addition to your ASMS so that this can become a practical tool for managing safety within your operation.

3: FAA Safety Management System (SMS) components.  
(Image source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/FAA-Safety-Management-System-SMS-components_fig2_289994263)


Element 1: Safety Policy

The safety policy should outline management's commitment to safety as well as the roles, responsibilities and appointment of safety personnel. Flight training schools should ensure that this section of your ASMS is up to date and relevant for your FTS. All staff should be inducted on the processes contained within the ASMS so that they know and understand their expectations when it comes to safety. 

For RAAus, a key element of an ASMS for your FTS is the emergency response plan. This should be up to date, regularly reviewed, and readily available at your flight training school. It is important that all staff understand the steps to take in the event of an emergency. 

TIP 1: Consider running emergency drills with your staff to run through emergency procedures. This is a great time to review your current documented processes and also a good time to check emergency equipment, PLB expiry/registration, fire extinguishers, etc.

  • What steps should be taken in the event that a flight is overdue?
  • What actions should be taken in the event of an accident at another location?
  • What actions should be taken in the event of an accident at your home airfield?

Element 2: Safety Risk Management

Safety risk management lies at the heart of every ASMS. Without appropriate controls in place to manage risks, the likelihood of an accident or incident is greatly increased. 

Every FTS should maintain an up to date risk register for aviation hazards at your Flight Training School. This should be regularly reviewed to consider additional risks that should be listed and what (if any) additional controls should be implemented to manage existing risks.

TIP 2: Hold a brainstorming session with your instructors to identify any hazards relevant to your operations and ensure these are listed on your risk register. Then consider what is currently being done to manage the hazard, and what further controls can be put in place to further reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable.

When conducting your brainstorming session consider:

  • What hazards exist at my local airport including terrain, weather, runway conditions, operations (gliding, helicopters, IFR, RPT, etc).
  • What hazards are specific to my organisation such as size, complexity, number of staff, type of aircraft, type of operations.
  • What occurrences have we had take place within our flight training school that should be listed to avoid a repeat in the future?
  • What occurrences have taken place at other RAAus flight training schools which could occur to us?

Risk registers will vary from one flight training school to another, however, should also contain a number of similarities. For example, a single instructor operation from a grass runway in mountainous terrain may have very different hazards listed when compared to a FTS operating in controlled airspace with multiple aircraft and instructors. Despite this, hazards common to both schools may include:

  • Collision (or near miss) in the circuit
  • Loss of Control (on take-off, in-flight, and on landing)
  • Hard landing
  • Engine Failure (full and partial)
  • Missing aircraft

Consider using a model, such as the SHELL model, to aid in the brainstorming process.

(Image source: https://slideplayer.com/slide/9938661/32/images/13/SHELL+Model+AVIATION+HUMAN+FACTOR+%3A+AHF.jpg)


Do you have a template for conducting risk assessments at your FTS? Take a look at our risk assessment template HERE.

Element 3: Safety Assurance

Element 3, safety assurance involves monitoring and reviewing the safety performance of your flight training school.

How is your flight training school performing? What occurrences have taken place since the previous review period? What was the outcome of these occurrences and what controls were put in place to avoid a reoccurrence? 

Tip 3: 
All flight training schools should implement a system for the internal reporting of hazards or occurrences (incidents/accidents). This should be readily available and all staff and students should be aware of how to report. Reports should then be reviewed by an appropriate member of staff to see what action is required to ensure that the hazard does not impact safety, or that the occurrence does not occur again.

Do you have a template for reporting and review of hazards and occurrences? Take a look at our incident and hazard reporting template HERE.


Tip 4: A number of Flight Training Schools will not have a high number of occurrences due to activity levels. This can lead to the view that safety is being appropriately managed as there are no internal reports to review. Consider also reviewing occurrences that have been taking place at other RAAus Flight Training Schools to see if you can implement controls to prevent one of these occurrences before it happens at your FTS.

Click here to view the RAAus FTS Safety Report containing safety data from RAAus FTS Operations.


Tip 5: Element 3 of your ASMS should include a process for the management of change within your organisation. Introduction of changes, such as a new aircraft type, a new location, or operating from a new runway can introduce hazards that may be easy to overlook.

Do you have a system to manage change within your FTS? Take a look at our Management of Change Template HERE.

Element 4: Safety Promotion

Now that you have identified and reviewed your hazards it is time to ensure that safety outcomes are appropriately promoted and communicated. Safety information should be built into FTS training packages and updated in FTS briefings. Ensure that staff and students are trained on emergency procedures, reporting requirements, and aware of the hazards that exist within the FTS training environment. 

Flight Training Schools should ensure that a communication platform is in place to appropriately communicate safety information with staff, students and private hirers (as necessary). Consider, for example, a staff notice board, student notice board, and regular email communications and safety forums. The more awareness you can spread of current safety information, the greater the safety benefit for your school! 

Tip 6: Safety meetings are an essential element for discussing safety outcomes, hazards, and implementing actions to improve safety. Safety meetings should be held regularly and minutes should be recorded for future reference.

Do you have a template for your safety meetings? Take a look at our Safety Committee Meeting Agenda and Safety, Risk and Compliance Checklist


Still looking for tools to improve your ASMS? CASA have a number of resources available on their website to assist


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