Hazard identification and management in aviation

A hazard is a condition or object with the potential to cause or contribute to an aircraft incident or accident.

Effective risk management through safety management practices is a fundamental part of successful aviation operations. This is achieved through a complete understanding of:

  • relevant hazards
  • safety risk assessment
  • safety risk mitigation
  • risk acceptance.

This means you must maintain a clear idea of current and emerging hazards and associated safety risks. In addition, you must monitor the effectiveness of any safety risk management strategies you have implemented.

Hazards are an unavoidable part of aviation activities, but they can be managed through mitigation strategies that contain the potential for the hazard to result in an unsafe condition. Hazard identification is the first step in the safety management process.

Examples of significant and typical aviation related hazards include:

  • meteorological (weather, volcanic ash, low light/night flying)
  • wildlife hazards
  • runway safety
  • fatigue.


Weather can be unpredictable. We have information about different flying operations that will help you calculate the right amount of fuel for the meteorological conditions in case of a forced diversion.

You can find more information on:

Volcanic ash

Volcanic Ash is potentially deadly to aircraft and passengers. The most critical effect is caused by ash melting in the engine, and then fusing into a glass-like coating on components, causing loss of thrust and possible engine failure.

We work with international organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization to help develop global aviation policies and procedures for dealing with volcanic ash clouds.

You can read more about Volcanic Ash (PDF, 692KB) from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Low light

You can work out the beginning or end of daylight using the graphs on our visual flight rules guide page.

Visual night flying

There are higher safety risks and additional requirements for visual flight rules operations (VFR) at night.

You can find more information on our visual flight rules guide page.


Aviation safety statistics show that wildlife are a significant safety hazard. Most wildlife strikes happen around the time of take-off or landing.

The Australian Aviation Wildlife Hazard Group (AAWHG) is a State Safety Programme hazard-specific working group, specific to aviation related wildlife-management in Australia.

You can read more on the Australian Aviation Wildlife Hazard Group website.

National Runway Safety Group

The National Runway Safety Group (NRSG) is a State Safety Programme hazard-specific working group that facilitates state-level visibility and continuous improvement in safety performance, specific to runway safety in Australia.

It uses feedback from these forums and other sources to develop and implement national strategies to improve runway safety.


Fatigue is a major hazard as it affects most aspects of a crew member’s ability to do their job.


In-flight turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to passengers and crew. It can happen without warning.

Read more in the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's staying safe against in-flight turbulence fact sheet (PDF, 1.16 MB).

Wire strike

Power and telephone wires are an insidious hazard for any pilot who has to fly low for a living. The Aerial Application Association of Australia (AAAA) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau suggest the following strategies to help pilots manage wire hazards:

  • set client expectations so that they are clear that safety comes first
  • conduct a thorough briefing and study a detailed map of the area before the flight
  • conduct an aerial reconnaissance before spraying and conduct an extra aerial reconnaissance before the clean-up run
  • reassess the risks when plans change
  • avoid unnecessary distractions and refocus when distracted
  • don't rely on your ability to react in time to avoid a wire
  • actively look for and remind yourself of wires
  • have a systematic approach to safely managing wires.

You can read about the AAAA powerline safety program.


Last updated:
23 Dec 2021
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//operations-safety-and-travel/safety-advice/hazard-identification-and-management-aviation
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