The relationship between the State Safety Programmes (SSP) and (SMS)

The relationship between the State Safety Programmes (SSP) and  (SMS)

SSP and SMS are the systemic means used to manage safety within States and organizations. A State’s safety oversight function becomes part of an SSP and is a fundamental safety assurance component. In the absence of an SSP, the objectives of the State’s safety oversight function are typically satisfied through administrative controls (inspections, audits and surveys) regularly carried out by CAAs and may not necessarily constitute safety risk controls.

An SSP, however, is typically necessary to turn the outcomes of safety oversight into safety risk controls.

A State’s safety oversight function may at present verify that a State has a system of regulations, but neither requires a safety risk analysis to produce such regulations nor monitors the effectiveness of regulations as safety risk controls. 

The SSP, on the other hand, would consider regulations as safety risk controls and require, through its SRM component, that the process of rulemaking be done using principles of SRM. This is accomplished by identifying hazards, assessing the safety risks and developing regulations that provide acceptable mitigation and control of the hazards.


An SMS, on the other hand, can be likened to a toolbox that contains the tools an operator needs in order to control the safety risks it faces during operations. 

It is important to acknowledge that an SMS is simply a toolbox in which the actual tools employed to conduct the two basic SRM processes (hazard identification and risk management) are contained and protected. 

Additionally, an SMS ensures a toolbox that is appropriate in size and complexity for the operator.

SSP and the SMS can be expressed as follows:

1-      States are responsible for developing and establishing an SSP, and operators are responsible for developing and establishing an SMS.

2-      States are responsible, as part of the activities of their SSP, to accept and oversee the development, implementation and operational performance of the operator’s SMS.


This interrelationship between the oversight activities of a State and the SRM activities of an operator may begin at a tactical level and prior to the full deployment of an SSP and SMS. For example, the deployment of performance-based variations to prescriptive regulations may be contingent on assurances that mitigation strategies associated with the safety risks, which are the result of a specific operational activity, achieve target levels of safety performance. 

These assurances can be achieved typically through complementary State and operator monitoring processes that are the precursors to SSP and SMS.

SSP and SMS provide the framework for the implementation of performance-based methods that support operational variations from some Standards and Recommended Practices.

The implementation of performance-based methods and the resultant levels of safety performance achieved or desired should meet the overall safety management objectives of an SSP.


The implementation and continued operation of safety management systems by operators/service providers is at the core of a State’s safety programme, the scope of the safety programme is much broader. 

It also includes safety activities assigned to State CAA, as well as management and development of interfaces between a wide spectrum of aviation organizations and institutions sharing the responsibility for the safety of air operations. These aviation organizations can be grouped in several broad categories:

1) International organizations (ICAO, European Commission, EASA, EUROCONTROL, etc.);

2) Contracting States to Chicago Convention, respectively national authorities responsible for civil aviation (CAAs);

3) Regulated entities - aviation service providers, equipment manufacturers, training organizations, etc.;

4)   Industry and professional associations and unions.

Achieving acceptable levels of safety globally, regionally and locally requires that SSPs for the above categories are also managed consistently.

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority.

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