Frequently Asked Questions

I. What is NATA Safety 1st Management System for Air Operators?

View the new NATA Safety 1st Management System for Air Operators Concept Brochure

Q. What is the NATA Safety 1st Management System for Air Operators (NATA SMS)

A. NATA SMS is a systematic, comprehensive program for the management of safety risks. It integrates flight operations with financial and human resource management for all safety activities related to air charter.

NATA SMS defines how operational safety should be managed and how companies can integrate it into their organization’s business activities. It keeps the safety message consistent, interesting and always out front.

With the Safety Management System, air operators will understand the risks inherent within their business. Armed with this understanding, they will continuously evaluate their business for hazards that may increase risk, and do something about them.

Q: What is the goal of the NATA SMS for Air Operators?

A: To instill a heightened safety culture throughout the organization by embracing a safety program based on recognized industry standards, supported by rigorous industry data.

Q: What, specifically, does the NATA SMS for Air Operators program included?

A: There are four major tenets of the NATA SMS Program:

1. The authority and responsibility to implement the NATA SMS must start with Senior Management. The success of the program requires other employees, but the importance of senior management leadership is vital to implement the safety initiatives of the safety management system.

2. Customized Company Safety Manual: The manual’s preparation by a designated safety manager ensures the company’s active involvement in its creation and the approval of ownership. Multiple Webcasts between NATA’s safety team and each program participant will assure total company-by-company customization.

Each company will develop its own manual to include the following (partial list):

~ Safety Management Roles and Responsibilities
~ Hazard Identification
~ Accident/Incident Reporting
~ Data Gathering
~ Safety Investigation
~ Safety Communication and Goal Setting
~ Self-assessment Guidance
~ Safety Training
~ Human Factors
~ Emergency Preparedness

3. Continuing Education: SMS companies will engage crews in both regulatory and refresher training designed to heighten ground, maintenance and flight crew knowledge and continual learning.

4. Third-Party Audits: Operators will participate in a biannual third-party audit to assure compliance with the NATA SMS program.

Q: Why the NATA SMS Program?

A: NATA SMS is a proven safety system implemented throughout Canada, Australia, Europe and the airlines in North America. It is a company-wide program that integrates into the operation so that safety starts at the top and spreads throughout the organization. As such, the program adapts to any size operation with guidance provided by the manual and NATA Safety 1st Webcasts.

Q: How is the NATA SMS for Air Operators different than the SMS Ground?

A: Both safety management systems cover similar elements, but the emphasis focuses on ground or air issues. Many of our members take advantage of both programs. As a participant in both programs, you will save 25% for the NATA SMS (Air Operator) program fee.

Q: What About Future Regulations?

A: The NATA SMS meets all established guidelines and criteria, such as FAA Advisory Circular (AC) No. 120-92, “Introduction to Safety Management Systems for Air Operators.”.

NATA’s SMS will accomplish more to improve safety than further regulations that do little to foster the corporate culture essential to establishing a superior safety standard.


• A comprehensive safety management guide, including all the tools necessary to design your own customized safety program. This is not a boilerplate manual. Enrollment in NATA SMS includes eight interactive training sessions, called Webcasts that assist with your program development without ever leaving your office. The Webcasts include live sessions between industry experts and your company’s safety leaders listening by phone and viewing in-depth, online presentations.

• Online Continuing Education for ground, flight and maintenance personnel. Development of both regulatory and refresher training designed to heighten knowledge and continual learning. (Under development)

• Self-assessment guidance and a biannual third-party audit of program adherence.

• Free safety consultation – by telephone and/or online: NATA’s safety department is available to answer questions and provide advice on improving safety.

• Participation includes confidential incident sharing for benchmarking and trend identification to measure your safety progress at your own operation and compare your safety progress to the industry’s overall experience.

• Delivery of the quarterly, online newsletter, NATA Safety 1st Flitebag offering expert insight, continuing education and up-to-date issues impacting air operations.


Russell Lawton, Director, Safety & Security
Phone: (703) 845-9000 ext. 115


Online: Order the program Online: Click Here

Mail: NATA Safety 1st Management System for Air Operators,
4226 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302