AEA Meets with Transport Canada Regarding SMS

SUMMARY: The regulatory battle against the Canadian proposal for a Safety Management Systems program is quickly coming to an end. We have fought the good fight, and it’s not over quite yet, but even if Transport Canada were not to go forward with rulemaking, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) mandate would force anyone interested in international commerce to adopt a Safety Management Systems program. The question we have to deal with in the final days of this regulatory battle is not “if” SMS but rather “how.”

Initial reports from AEA members who have adopted regulatory SMS (those who were captured in Phase I) have not been encouraging. The labor and administrative burden of these programs has been excessive. The AEA would like to thank its members for supporting its recent survey regarding SMS costs. From this survey, John Carr, AEA Canada regulatory consultant, created a detailed report, which has been shared with both Transport Canada and the FAA to provide information for estimating the cost of implementing the proposal. 

This past week, the AEA met with Transport Canada for a two-day meeting regarding SMS. We shared many of our concerns, challenges and the reported lack of standardization in reviews and audits resulting in unacceptable costs. Transport Canada acknowledged our concerns and clarified it was not its intent to create a thoroughly “new” program but rather to capture the best business practices many of the AEA member shops already have in place and institutionalize them in the regulations.

The AEA argued the elements of a Safety Management Systems program are fundamental to industry best practices and most AEA member companies already exercise these approaches to quality, safety and efficiency. Of the 60-plus AEA members in Canada, the vast majority of these shops are well-run businesses with, in some cases, more than four decades of successful operations. Any additional cost for our members to document they are exercising industry best practices is not acceptable.

Additional information regarding this meeting will be published in “International News & Regulatory Updates” in the June issue of Avionics News.

To move forward, the AEA is committed to developing manual templates, forms, worksheets and best practices, as well as provide training on cost-effective implementation of this program.

The training will begin at the AEA Canada Meeting from Sept. 1-3, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Contact Ric Peri, AEA vice president of government and industry affairs, by email at or by phone at 202-589-1144.