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8 June 2017

David Harrison, Safety Director at NATS and CANSO Safety Standing Committee Chair, looks at the importance of regular safety reviews

Everyone knows it is a good idea to visit your doctor regularly to check you are fit and well. It may not always be pleasant, but it will give you the information you need to stay healthy – and address any concerns you have early on.

Similarly I would argue that it is also important for ANSPs to do regular check-ups on their safety management systems (SMS). Safety – one of the key health indicators of the industry – is our first priority, and we need to make sure we are reviewing our safety performance at regular intervals. 

With this in mind, I am pleased to announce that we have just the tool for you to conduct a comprehensive self-examination, and you won't even have to change into one of those awful hospital gowns to do it.

This month, CANSO launched its Standard of Excellence in Safety Management Systems Maturity Questionnaire, in partnership with EUROCONTROL. It is a comprehensive checklist designed to give you an up close and personal picture of the health of your organisation’s SMS – the good, and potentially not so good. 

Aligned with ICAO's Annex 19: Safety Management, the questionnaire shows you if your organisation is meeting international standards for safety management and whether there is potential for improvement.

That it is the same questionnaire used to do the CANSO Standard of Excellence for Air Navigation Services – Safety (SEANS-Safety) assessments, means it carries the same quality mark. Doing it now can also save you time and identify areas for improvement sooner.

I am a big proponent of proactive safety management, and this SMS Maturity Questionnaire is going to give you the insight you need to address any gaps in the health of your SMS.  At NATS, I have used it to determine what areas of my SMS need to get a little more attention this year, and I think you will find it really useful too.

Since Members began taking part in regular safety checks, we have had feedback that has been really helpful when conducting peer reviews, such as the CANSO Africa ATM Safety Peer Review Initiative. ICAO is also partnering with CANSO to encourage all Middle East ANSPs to undertake this questionnaire, in order to strengthen SMS in the region. 

I would therefore urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to do a comprehensive examination of your safety management system’s health and ensure you have an effective SMS in place, and a clean bill of health.

For more information or to request a questionnaire, please email

Please return questionnaires to: and by 30 June 2017.



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About the author

David Harrison, Safety Director at NATS and CANSO Safety Standing Committee Chair

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