Statement from Minister Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

OTTAWA, Nov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - The television segment "Putting Airline Safety at Risk?" produced by Radio-Canada's Frederic Zalac, and aired on CBC The National on November 9th, and scheduled to air on Radio-Canada's Enquete on November 17th, is misleading about Transport Canada's aviation safety oversight program.

Transport Canada was the first civil aviation authority in the world to implement SMS, and now it is a global standard. The International Civil Aviation Organization has recognized Transport Canada as a world leader in safety management systems implementation.

By implementing Safety Management System (SMS) regulations for commercial air carriers, Transport Canada is strengthening the safety culture of these organizations. SMS requires that companies implement safety policies and procedures that identify potential safety problems, and deal with them before accidents happen. And, contrary to the claims made in this television segment, this process is in addition to Transport Canada's robust inspection activities for all sectors of the air transport industry.

An effective safety management system empowers aviation companies to address aviation risks before they lead to incidents. This moves Canada from a responsive, top-down system where actions were taken in response to safety incidents, to a proactive system that aims to prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

Through SMS, Transport Canada has also expanded its inspection activities, conducting more than 10,000 inspections a year on companies big and small. In fact, 70 percent of the aviation safety budget is dedicated to inspections.

SMS assessments and traditional inspections should not be thought of in isolation or as opposites. They are complementary parts of one of the safest aviation safety systems in the world - one in which we can all be confident.

Transport Canada introduced the first set of SMS regulations in 2005 and we have seen a drop in the accident rate since that time.  In 2009, the total number of accidents was the lowest recorded figure in 10 years. This evidence shows that we are doing the right thing.

Mrs. Wendy Tadros, the Chair of the Transportation Safety Board said Safety Management Systems are "a powerful, internationally recognized management tool to help organizations find trouble before trouble finds them." She added that the TSB board thinks, "SMS is the right way to go."

Captain Dan Adamus, president of the Air Line Pilots Association's Canada Board, said "SMS programs ensure continuing safety by combining the appropriate levels of incentive for front-line employee reporting, internal auditing and regulatory oversight." He added that "Canada is a world leader in adopting SMS programs and ALPA is proud to be part of that effort."

Our government is committed to continuing Canada's tradition as a leader in aviation safety. Canada has one of the safest aviation systems in the world and Transport Canada is unswerving in its drive to further aviation safety by modernizing the way we do things.


The Honourable Denis Lebel,

Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities 

SOURCE Transport Canada

For further information:

Contacts: Pierre Florea
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Denis Lebel
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities



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