The ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) was launched in January 1999 in response to widespread concerns expressed regarding the apparent inability of some Contracting States to carry out their safety oversight functions. The scope of the Programme was initially limited to Annex 1 (Personnel Licensing), Annex 6 (Operation of Aircraft) and Annex 8 (Airworthiness of Aircraft), but was extended in 2005 to all safety-related Annexes, including those relating to Air Navigation Services (ANS), also providing transition to a comprehensive systems approach for the conduct of safety oversight audits.
In November 2002, the EUROCONTROL Permanent Commission approved the establishment of the ESARR Implementation Monitoring and Support (ESARR Implementation Monitoring and Support (ESIMS)) Programme. The Programme was updated and was introduced in 2005 to assess, through a formal and detailed audit process, States’ safety oversight arrangements and capabilities. The ESIMS Programme came to an end in 2012 being succeeded by the EASA standardisation inspections. ESIMS audits used to cover all applicable regulations related to the implementation of ATM safety oversight by a State, as well as the procedures, the resourcing of functions and other implementing arrangements needed to implement, in respect to ATM, the Eight Critical Elements of a State’s Safety Oversight System defined in ICAO Document 9734-A.
In view of the close synergies between the two Programmes, ESIMS was operated in close, formal cooperation with ICAO’s USOAP.
To formalise cooperation between the two Programmes, a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) was signed in 2005 between International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and EUROCONTROL regarding safety oversight auditing, ensuring that detailed links are maintained between ICAO SOA and SRU at working and programme-management levels.
ESIMS and ICAO USOAP audit schedules were coordinated to maximise synergies between the programmes. As part of the close working ties, ICAO SOA was given full access to ESIMS audit reports and, conversely, ESIMS had full access to USOAP audit reports.
Through this cooperation, audit data and related information were routinely exchanged, optimising availability of information to both Programmes and minimising the time spent in auditing areas of common interest.
The comparison of the ESIMS results with the findings related to the ANS part of the ICAO USOAP audits shows that, even though there are differences in the scope of both audit programmes, the problems and key issues raised are similar. The results of the USOAP audits can be used to support the recommendations made by various international organisations (EUROCONTROL, ICAO, the European Commission) with regard to the issues to be solved in the safety oversight of ATM/ANS.
ICAO USOAP beyond 2010
With regard to the evolution of the ICAO USOAP beyond 2010, Assembly Resolution A36-4 in 2007 called for:
- The examination of the feasibility of applying a Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA), while continuing to maintain as core elements the key safety provisions contained in Annexes 1, 6, 8, 11, 13 and 14, and -
- Appropriate changes to USOAP to incorporate the analysis of safety risk factors and their application on a universal basis to assess States’ compliance with their oversight obligations, with adaptation of audit planning and scope accordingly.
The main objective of CMA is therefore to enhance States’ safety oversight and safety management capabilities by identifying safety deficiencies, assessing associated safety risks, developing strategies for mitigation, and re-evaluating States’ achieved safety performance levels.
The benefits of CMA are embedded in the transition from a one-time assessment activity to a continuous monitoring process, which offers a long-term, cost-effective, more flexible and sustainable approach. Furthermore, it will be developed as a (web-based), real-time, interactive and effective operational system that provides for the collective sharing of safety data.
The ICAO Safety and Security Audits Branch (SSA) is responsible for the development and implementation of the CMA, and will conduct the analysis and measurement of States’ safety oversight capability and identified safety risks. The Regional Offices will participate in safety data collection and validation activities, and exchange of information with SSA via the online framework. They will also ensure that corrective and mitigation actions are taken by States in their regions in a timely manner.
At its annual coordination meeting with ICAO SOA in July 2009, EUROCONTROL SRU was invited to participate in the CMA Advisory Group (AG) and contribute to the provision of regular feedback to the CMA Working Group (WG) in better understanding the needs and expectations of both internal and external partners regarding the output of the CMA.