The ICAO Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP)



Before the establishment of the ICAO Global Security Audit Programme, many technical assessments were conducted by ICAO Member States voluntarily to assess compliance with Annex 17 standards and advise on any necessary improvements. Through these assessments, ICAO discovered a significant lack of compliance with aviation security standards.

Also, there was a growing concern about the level of aviation security around the world after the events of September 11, 2001, which made ICAO establish the Global Security Audit Program to reduce all acts of unlawful interference and restore public confidence in civil air transport.

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What is the ICAO Universal Security Audit Programme?

The objective of the ICAO USAP is to promote global aviation security through continuous auditing and monitoring of member States’ aviation security performance to enhance their aviation security compliance ( Annex 17) and oversight capabilities.
Before explaining the ICAO USAP, I will explain the importance of aviation security oversight.

What is Aviation Security Oversight?

Aviation Security oversight is how States ensure effective implementation of their national security requirements in compliance with the security-related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in Annex 17, including the security-related provisions of Annex 9) and related ICAO documents.

Furthermore, as per Chicago Convention (article 12) contracting States are required to exercise positive control and supervision over all civil aviation activities conducted in the State through the establishment of an effective oversight system.

Aviation Security Oversight |Is it important?

Yes, it is important and mandatory concerning aviation security regulations. It is particularly important to maintain uniformity in the effectiveness of worldwide standards since the level of protection against acts of unlawful interference deriving from the implementation of security measures as stipulated in the international Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) is only as strong as the weakest link in the global aviation network.

Eight Critical Elements to an Effective State Aviation Security Oversight System

Critical Element-1: Aviation Security Legislation

Provision of a comprehensive and effective legislative framework, consistent with the environment and complexity of the State’s civil aviation operations.
Establishment and Implementation of Annex 17 Standards and relevant security-related Standards contained in other Annexes.

Implementation of the State’s aviation security requirements.

Critical Element -2: Aviation Security Programmes and Regulations

Provision of adequate national-level programs and regulations to address national requirements emanating from aviation security legislation.
Provision of standardized implementation procedures, equipment, and infrastructures in conformance with Annex 17 Standards (and security-related provisions contained in other Annexes).

Critical Element-3: State Appropriate Authority for Aviation Security and its Responsibilities

Designation of appropriate national authority for aviation security matters, supported by appropriate technical and non-technical personnel and the provision of adequate financial resources.

The State's appropriate authority must have aviation security regulatory functions, objectives, and policies, and must develop and maintain an effective National Civil Aviation Security Programme, National Civil Aviation Security Training Programme, and National Civil Aviation Security Quality Control Programme.

 It must also ensure the promulgation and application of relevant regulations, the allocation of tasks, and the coordination of responsibilities between government agencies.

Critical Element-4: Personnel Qualifications and Training

Establishment of minimum knowledge and experience requirements for technical personnel performing State aviation security oversight and regulatory functions.
Provision of appropriate training to personnel to maintain and enhance their competence (including initial, on-the-job, and recurrent training).

Requirements for and provision of training to the aviation industry on the implementation of applicable aviation security requirements.

Critical Element-5: Provision of Technical Guidance, Tools, and Security Critical Information

Provision of technical guidance, tools, and security-critical information, as applicable, to technical personnel to enable them to perform security oversight functions following established requirements and in a standardized manner.
Provision of technical guidance on the implementation of applicable regulations by the appropriate authority.

Critical Element-6: Certification and Approval Obligations

Implementation of processes and procedures to ensure that personnel and organizations performing an aviation security activity meet the established requirements before they are allowed to conduct the relevant activity, such as the certification of screeners, the approval of security programs, and the requirements for recurrent certification and approvals.

Critical Element-7: Quality Control Obligations

Implementation of processes, such as audits, inspections, surveys, and tests, to proactively ensure that aviation security entities continue to meet the established requirements and operate at the level of competency and security required by the State. This includes the monitoring of designated personnel who perform security oversight functions on behalf of the appropriate authority. 

Critical Element-8: Resolution of Security Concerns

Implementation of processes and procedures to resolve identified deficiencies, including the ability to:
         - analyze security deficiencies;
         - provide recommendations to prevent reoccurrence;
         - track rectification; and
         - respond to acts of unlawful interference.
Ensure the effective implementation of corrective actions, and take enforcement action when appropriate. 


A lack of appropriate aviation security oversight in one ICAO Member State can have an impact on international civil aviation operations worldwide. Aviation security oversight also ensures that the national aviation industry provides security levels equal to or better than those defined by the SARPs. 

Concerning aviation security, it is particularly important to maintain worldwide uniform standards, since the level of protection deriving from the implementation of security standards is only as strong as the weakest link in the global aviation network.
Lack of aviation security oversight in one State, therefore, threatens the security of international civil aviation operations.

Aviation security oversight is an individual State’s responsibility. ICAO understands that the state’s aviation security oversight is the foundation upon which global aviation security is built for this reason it applies the ICAO USAP.

Additional information read :
I- ICAO Document 10047 – Aviation Security Oversight Manual.
II- ICAO Document 9807 – Universal Security Audit Programme Continuous Monitoring Manual.

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods | CGO, DGR, SMS Chief Instructor | Internal Auditor | DG Inspector linkedin

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