The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is implementing its aviation regulatory development and reform program to improve, strengthen and reinforce aviation safety within Australia.

Regulations are written based on experience and outcomes – often negative.

In accordance with the ICAO Standard and Recommended Practice, the reform program will establish a range of safety measures, including the requirement for SMS for most commercial aviation operations including maintenance operations.

CASA policy and guidance

19881999 onwardsComment
Civil Aviation Act (CAA)Civil Aviation Act (CAA)Act of Parliament
Civil Aviation Regulations (CARs)Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASRs)Parliamentary tabling and law
Civil Aviation Orders (CAOs)Manual(s) Of Standards (MOS)Written by CASA with enforceable legislative powers
Civil Aviation Advisory Publications (CAAPs)Advisory Circulars (ACs),
Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC)
Guidance Material (GM)
Advisory only, no head of power but defines compliance requirements


The table above shows the evolution of Regulatory reform since 1988 when the Civil Aviation Act came into power.

Regulatory reform is occurring so that Australian legislation is;

  • Located in one place
  • Aligned with international best practice
  • Based of past lessons learnt
  • Responsive to advances in global aviation

The final stages of the reform program are due for completion in December 2021


SMS for Aviation – A Practical Guide 2nd edition provides useful information for organisations-whether they are updating and improving an existing SMS, or developing and implementing a new one from scratch.

It is practical, written in plain English and takes a jargon-busting approach. The set of eight booklets outlines the structure of an SMS following the global ICAO framework.

The kit also includes a DVD featuring the video dramas, SOS and SMS and ‘What the experts say-a series of video interviews with industry SMS experts and practitioners; and a CD containing useful tools (checklist and templates). Organisations can adapt those tools to suit their own individual needs‘ (from CASA Website)

The 8 booklets are:

  • Booklet 1 – Safety Management System Basics
  • Booklet 2 – Safety Policy and Objectives
  • Booklet 3 – Safety Risk Management
  • Booklet 4 – Safety Assurance
  • Booklet 5 – Safety Promotion
  • Booklet 6 – Human Factors
  • Booklet 7 – SMS for small, non-complex organisations
  • Booklet 8 – Workbook

​The kit can be purchased though the CASA online store or can be downloaded through the website.


There are 4 CAAPs from CASA regarding SMS:

  • SMS-1(0)  Safety Management Systems for Regular Public Transport Operations
  • SMS-2(0)  Integration of Human Factors (HF) into Safety Management Systems
  • SMS-3(1)  Non-Technical Skills Training and Assessment for Regular Public Transport Operations
  • SMS-4(0)  Guidance on the establishment of a Flight Data Analysis Program (FDAP) – SMS

However, CAAPs will disappear along with CARs and CAOs as the current regulatory reform program progresses to conclusion in December 2021.


There is currently one AC supporting SMS in the new regulations. This is AC 119-01 v1.1 (Safety management systems for air transport operations). There is also AC 119-12 v1.0 (Human factors principles and non-technical skills training and assessment for air transport operations) which complements it.

AC 119-01 is selectively applicable during the transition period ending in December 2021

Follow this link to the CASA page with the latest CASA SMS advisory material.

 Current SMS requirements

Air Traffic Service ProvidersPart 171, 172 & 173Apr 03
Certified AerodromesPart 139 InternationalNov 05
Certified AerodromesPart 139 Other CertifiedJan 07
Air OperatorsCAO 82.5 (RPT - high capacity)Jul 09
CAO 82.3 (RPT - other than high capacity)Feb 10
Approved Maintenance OrganisationsPart 145Jun 13
Flying Training OrganisationPart 142Sep 14
Note CASR Part 141 do not require SMS but are 'strongly encouraged' to adopt SMS

Current SMS transitional requirements – December 2018

CASR Part 119 – Australian air transport operators (certification and management)

…Deals with the certification and management for air transport operators and applies to all operators with an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) for current charter, RPT or air ambulance operations.

Part 119 includes requirements for a Safety Management System (SMS), training and checking and for human factors and non-technical skills training – all scaled to the size and complexity of the operation…

CASA – December 2018

121, 133, 135 and 138, implementation by 02 December 2021 (was 25 March 2021)

Part 145 for 133, 135 and 138…??

Australian Air Transport Operations - Large AeroplanesPart 121Greater than 8618kg certified for more than 10 seats or more
Australian air transport operations - rotorcraftPart 133Includes helicopters, gyroplanes or powered-lift aircraft
Australian Air Transport Operations - Small AeroplanesPart 1358616kg or less, certified for 9 seats or less
Maintenance organisations (non RPT)Part 145Still subject to CASA/Industry consultation
Aerial work operationsPart 138SMS requirements subject to risk based assessment
Note: Air Transport is a flight conducted for cargo or passengers, for hire or reward, and publicly available.

Compliance requirements

CASA requires that all applicable organisations be compliant with SMS requirements by the end of the respective regulation transitional period.

The future significant (and final major) regulatory reform is for the Flight Operations suite and is currently underway.  This will affect all remaining commercial rotorcraft, fixed wing, balloons and airship operations and maintenance. There will be a requirement for each of these organisations to implement and use an SMS.

CASA is also currently in the process of developing CASR Part 5 which will standardise SMS across all CASR parts (per ICAO, CAA NZ, CASA PNG…)

There is a recognition and acceptance that every organisation is unique and that the SMS needs to be appropriate  to the number of persons it involves, the type of activity it conducts, and the level of risk it is exposed to.  As an example, the SMS of a small country town, non-complex maintenance will not require the scale and complexity for a city based major airline.

The key CASA statement regarding an organisation’s SMS is ‘…tailored to meet the size and complexity of the organisation…’