Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) about?

For well over a decade, ICAO has performed safety oversight audits within the framework of the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP). These audits have enabled ICAO to evaluate the safety oversight capabilities of its Member States and achieve a more comprehensive understanding of this crucial component to air transport’s continued growth and development.
Have all countries been audited by ICAO?
As of October 2013, ICAO has completed 184 comprehensive systems approach (CSA) audits, accounting for 96% of all Member States having oversight responsibility for 99% of all international air traffic.
What does CMA stand for?

CMA is Continuous Monitoring Approach.
Why has USOAP evolved to a continuous monitoring approach (CMA)?
The evolution of the USOAP to a continuous monitoring approach (CMA) provides an ideal solution to collecting more regular information regarding the level of safety oversight provided by ICAO Member States. Under this new approach, cyclical audits will be supplemented with an ongoing process of gathering safety information. This will allow stakeholders in international civil aviation to base their decisions on the latest information available. The CMA aims to provide a continuous report of a State’s effective implementation.
The objective of the USOAP is to promote global aviation safety through continuous monitoring of the Member States’ safety oversight capabilities. The CMA enables ICAO to collect vast amounts of safety information, which is provided primarily by States. Safety information is also gathered from relevant external stakeholders, as well as through audits and other USOAP-CMA activities.

What do USOAP audits focus on?

USOAP audits focus on a State’s capability in providing safety oversight by assessing whether the State has effectively and consistently implemented the critical elements of a safety oversight system and determining the State's level of implementation of ICAO’s safety-related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and associated procedures and guidance material. The programme monitors eight core areas of a member states aviation system.

1. Primary Aviation Legislation and associated civil aviation regulations
2. Civil Aviation Organizational structure
3. Personnel Licencing activities
4. Aircraft Operations
5. Airworthiness of civil aircraft
6. Aerodromes
7. Air Navigation Services
8. Accident and Serious incident investigations
What is a USOAP Audit?

Audits are carried out by ICAO to determine Member States’ capabilities for safety
and the status of States’ implementation of all safety relevant ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (found in 16 of the 18 ICAO Annexes), associated procedures, guidance material, and best safety practices.
Audits are tailored to the level of complexity of aviation activities in the State to be audited.
Timing, duration of audits, and size and composition of the audit teams, are determined through a
review of the information submitted by the State.
What is an ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM)?
ICAO will perform an ICVM to ascertain whether previously identified safety deficiencies have been satisfactorily resolved by assessing the status of corrective actions or mitigating measures taken by Member States to address findings and recommendations, including Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs). Simply put, an ICVM is not an audit, but rather an on-site activity to validate progress made by member States in resolving safety oversight deficiencies identified during an audit.


What is a Significant Safety Concern?


During the course of an audit, ICAO may identify what is referred to as a ‘Significant Safety Concern’ with respect to the ability of the audited State to properly oversee its airlines (air operators); airports; aircraft; and/or air navigation services provider under its jurisdiction. This does not necessarily indicate a particular safety deficiency but, rather, indicates that the State is not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of all applicable ICAO Standards. Full technical details of the ICAO findings are made available to the State’s Civil Aviation Authority to guide rectification, as well as to all ICAO Member States to facilitate any actions that they may consider necessary to ensure safety. The audited State also undertakes to regularly report to ICAO progress on the correction of the safety concern.

If ICAO identifies a Significant Safety Concern during the course of an audit, does it mean that it is unsafe to fly to that country? Or to fly with an airline from that State?

As indicated above, the identification of a Significant Safety Concern does not necessarily indicate a particular safety deficiency but, rather, indicates that the State is not providing sufficient oversight to ensure the effective implementation of all applicable ICAO Standards. It is important to emphasize that ICAO does not directly audit the aviation industry or aviation service providers. ICAO audits focus on the safety oversight capability of the designated governmental authority responsible for civil aviation. For more specific information on the safety of the various components of the State’s aviation system (ie the airlines, airports, aircraft or air navigation service providers), the public should refer to applicable travel advisories as may be issued by national or regional authorities.

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