Release #09.86
December 4, 2009

ALPA Reaffirms Support for Canadian SMS Programs

OTTAWA – Safety Management Systems (SMS) provide a vital tool to enhance safety in aviation and other transportation industries in Canada, according to the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l. (ALPA), the world’s largest non-governmental aviation safety organization.

“SMS programs dramatically improve safety by adding an extra layer of internal audit to existing inspection programs,” said Capt. Dan Adamus, president of ALPA’s Canada Board. “Canada was one of the first countries to adopt an SMS program in its marine, rail, and aviation industries. Since then, a significant number of other countries around the world have also embraced SMS programs.”

“ALPA has worked closely with Transport Canada to advance SMS as a safer way of doing business,” said Capt. John Prater, ALPA’s president. “We will continue to do all we can to move this important aviation safety program forward in Canada.”

While the first line of defense in preventing accidents is strong aviation safety regulations, it is impossible to regulate every conceivable aspect of the industry. SMS aids airlines by allowing them to internally audit their procedures to identify and mitigate safety risks that have not been anticipated by the regulators. As a result, the SMS programs help to prevent accidents and incidents before they occur and are critical to ensuring the highest safety standards are maintained.

“The airline industry is keenly aware that advancing safety must play an essential role in day-to-day operations,” said Capt. Linda Orlady, ALPA’s executive air safety vice-chair and SMS project director. “We cannot wait for an accident to occur before we address safety concerns.” An SMS program allows safety concerns to be identified and corrected before they become a hazard.

As with many new initiatives, there have been some unfounded concerns about SMS programs. However, Transport Canada has made a clear commitment to continue to provide traditional oversight in addition to the audit of SMS programs.

“ALPA supports Transport Canada’s commitment to continued oversight as the appropriate role of the regulator,” concluded Adamus. “We look forward to properly implemented SMS programs helping to make flying even safer for passengers and crews across Canada.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing nearly 53,000 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada, including the eight airlines that make up ALPA’s Canada Board.


Contact: ALPA Media Relations, 703/481-4440 or