ICAO's Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) was initially launched in January 1999, in response to widespread concerns about the adequacy of aviation safety oversight around the world. Initially, USOAP activities consisted in regular and mandatory audits of ICAO Member States' safety oversight systems.
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 (CEs) of a safety oversight system, which enable the State to ensure the implementation of ICAO's safety-related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and associated procedures and guidance material.
The programme was expanded in 2005 to the USOAP Comprehensive Systems Approach (CSA) to include safety-related provisions contained in all safety-related Annexes to the Chicago Convention. The USOAP CSA cycle which ended in December 2010 entailed about 40 safety oversight audits annually, with each ICAO Member State required to host an audit at least once during the cycle.
In September 2007, the 36th Session of the Assembly adopted Resolution A36-4 directing the Council to examine different options for the continuation of the USOAP beyond 2010, including the feasibility of applying a new approach based on the concept of continuous monitoring and incorporating the analysis of safety risk factors. The systematic and more proactive conduct of monitoring activities in the new USOAP Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA) would make a more effective and efficient use of ICAO resources and reduce the burden on States caused by repetitive audits.
In 2010, the 37th Session of the Assembly adopted Resolution A37-5, affirming that the evolution of USOAP to the CMA should continue to be a top priority for ICAO to ensure that information on the safety performance of Member States is provided to other Member States and to the travelling public on an ongoing basis. This vital improvement to international aviation safety required the participation and support of all Member States, particularly during the two-year transition period (2011 - 2012) while the tools and guidance required for USOAP CMA were developed.
As of January 2013, USOAP CMA is fully launched and its processes and tools are constantly reviewed to enable a more information-driven, risk-based and result-oriented approach. The objectives of the CMA include: monitoring States' safety oversight systems using a web-based platform — the "Online Framework" (OLF); validating States' progress through various on-site and off-site validation activities; and continuing to assess the effectiveness and sustainability of States' safety oversight systems through audits. With the CMA, the USOAP has gained in cost-effectiveness, dynamicity and flexibility (with the introduction of activities of limited scope).
The USOAP CMA will continue to evolve in the next few years, in order to support State's efforts in implementing a State Safety Programme (SSP). ICAO initially published in 2014 "new Protocol Questions (PQs) on safety management" to be used for audits and other continuous monitoring activities conducted under the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA). These PQs are being used to conduct voluntary and confidential assessments of SSP implementation at the request of ICAO member States. In July 2017, amended SSP-related PQs will be published by ICAO to reflect Amendment 1 of Annex 19, the 4th edition of the SMM and lessons learned to date. Although Amendment 1 to Annex 19 does not become applicable until November 2019, select States will be approached by ICAO with a view to performing audits including the amended SSP-related PQs in 2018 and 2019 on a voluntary but non confidential basis. As of 2020, ICAO will perform audits using the amended SSP-related PQs on the States which will meet the criteria to be established by ICAO, in line with the GASP
Comprehensive information related to USOAP CMA is available on the USOAP CMA Online Framework at