Amendments to an SMS or human factors/non-technical skills program
Under CASA’s Civil Aviation Orders (CAO) 82.3 and 82.5, an operator can develop an ‘SMS amendment process’ and/or a human factors/non-technical skills (HF/NTS) program amendment process’ (an amendment process). Once CASA approves this amendment process, the operator can amend their SMS and/or HF/NTS program (providing the changes are likely to maintain or increase safety levels) without requiring further approval from CASA.
The SMS amendment process allows an operator to maintain and continuously improve their SMS, manage change, and make editorial changes to their SMS.
Similarly, the HF/NTS program amendment process allows the HF&NTS program to evolve and improve as part of the operator’s SMS continuous improvement and change management. The HF/NTS amendment process may include, for example, a review of training needs, or an evaluation of the program as a whole; as well as editorial changes.
To approve an amendment process, and to ensure there is no adverse effect on safety, CASA needs to have confidence that an operator’s amendment process can identify and record reliable information on which to base a reasoned and persuasive safety case. In approving/not approving an amendment process, CASA will consider the operator’s experience with SMS and in preparing appropriate safety cases.
Note: An operator may combine an SMS and HF&NTS program amendment process under the one process in their SMS.
What should the amendment process(es) contain?
When assessing an amendment process, CASA considers how much of the following information and procedures the operator includes:
Scope statement - describes what may, and may not, be amended by the amendment process without CASA approval.
Note: An SMS amendment process must not be used to make an amendment which would change SMS content on which the SMS amendment process itself is dependent. For example if an established risk management process is used to formulate a safety case, the risk management process cannot be changed without CASA approval.
- Objective(s) statement - describes the operator's precise objective(s) in making any SMS amendment or HF&NTS program amendment.
Risk analysis – the documented procedure the operator will follow to analyse and manage any potential risk of a proposed amendment. Above all, the procedure must require an operator to demonstrate that the proposed amendment is not likely to reduce the existing level of safety.
Robust risk management is the critical attribute of an acceptable amendment process. The operator must consider whether a proposed amendment will affect an existing defence or mitigation. The desired outcome is that the proposed amendment will achieve at least the equivalent risk mitigation effect and, therefore, the same level of safety.
CASA considers that operators should use a safety case, derived from existing SMS processes including hazard identification, risk assessment and mitigation, to justify amendments. You do not need a safety case if the amendments are merely editorial, or will obviously improve safety (for example, lowering the level of residual risk which requires CEO sign-off, or adding a new topic to the HF&NTS training syllabus). If the operator uses these methods, in conjunction with the ALARP principle to assess the impact of a proposed amendment, they could potentially meet the requirement for adequate risk analysis.
Consultation and approval – describes stakeholder consultation the operator undertakes before the amendment is finally signed-off, as well the roles and seniority levels of personnel within the organisation who must approve a proposed amendment.
- Document control procedures – documents procedures to ensure that hard copy and/or electronic versions of the SMS or HF&NTS program documentation are updated to incorporate each amendment approved by the amendment process, and communicated to relevant personnel. These procedures should incorporate an amendment record (version control), to ensure that the current version of the document can be easily identified. To ensure ongoing compliance with subsection 28BH (3) of the Civil Aviation Act 1988, operators should update any other document which makes reference to the document or manual being amended.
CASA notification – documents the procedure to ensure that once an amendment is approved within the organisation the operator notifies CASA, including the timeframe(s) within which they notify CASA of amendments.
Amendments of a minor or editorial nature may be notified ‘in bulk’ at regular intervals (for example, every three months). However, CASA expects that the operator would make notification of any substantial amendment (but which does not require CASA pre-approval) as soon as possible after it has been made (for example, within seven days).
As well as sending the amendment to CASA, the operator should include evidence, such as the safety case, supporting their analysis that the amendment is likely to maintain or increase safety levels. If the operator does not provide this supporting information, CASA may request it to better understand the justification for the amendment.
Review cycle – documents procedures to ensure that, once implemented, each amendment is formally monitored and reviewed, as per the continuous improvement element of the operator’s SMS. This should confirm:
- the original objective was met, and
- there were no unintended outcomes or consequences having, or likely to have, a detrimental effect on the safety level provided by the SMS or HF&NTS program.
This review would indicate to the operator and CASA whether the amendment process is functioning adequately.
How to apply to CASA for approval of an SMS and/or HF&NTS program incorporating an amendment process
Operators should send applications to amend an approved SMS or HF&NTS program to incorporate an amendment process to CASA’s Permissions Applications Centre.
CASA will assess the amendment process and, if acceptable, issue a new approval for the operator’s SMS or HF&NTS program incorporating the amendment process. CASA will charge a fee for its consideration of an amendment process.
How can modifications to an approved amendment process be made?
An operator cannot unilaterally change any aspect of a CASA-approved amendment process. Modifications to the amendment process require CASA’s assessment and approval.
The operator should prepare a safety case indicating that an acceptable level of safety can be achieved by the proposed modification to the amendment process. If CASA assesses that the modification is satisfactory, CASA will re-issue the operator’s SMS or HF&NTS program approval (as applicable).
Amendments without an approved process
If an operator does not have an approved SMS or HF&NTS program amendment process, they still have to maintain an effective SMS or HF&NTS program.
An operator with an approved amendment process is able to make certain changes without further CASA approval. However, an operator who does not have an approved amendment process must apply to CASA for approval. CASA expects such an operator to provide sufficient justification for the proposed amendment, based on a specific safety case, before the amendment is assessed.
Note: Although the SMS and HF&NTS program amendment processes are optional under CAOs 82.3 and 82.5, CASA envisages that, under the proposed Part 119 of CASR, operators would be required to have and use a documented change process for all organisational changes.