Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program


The first stage of the program, launched in 1996, was voluntary. Its initial success led the 31st Session of the ICAO Assembly (October 1998) to endorse an enhanced program and provide the necessary funding. The Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) commenced on 1 January 1999, replacing the voluntary program.

The basis of the ICAO audit was the degree to which the States complied with safety related Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and associated procedures laid down in three of the eighteen Annexes to the Chicago Convention: Annex 1 (Personnel Licensing), Annex 6 (Operation of Aircraft) and Annex 8 (Airworthiness of Aircraft). It was envisaged that ICAO would audit other annexes in future programs.

Australia's first audit under this system took place on 9–20 August 1999.

The 35th Session of the ICAO Assembly considered the proposal of the Council for the continuation and expansion of USOAP as of 2005, and resolved that USOAP be expanded to cover the safety-related provisions in all safety-related Annexes (all Annexes with the exception of Annex 9 Facilitation and Annex 17 Security) and also to implement a comprehensive systems approach for the conduct of safety oversight audits. The six-year cycle of the USOAP comprehensive systems approach (CSA) is set to concluded at the end of 2010. In September 2007, the 36th Session of the Assembly directed 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.

The 37th Session of the Assembly agreed the best and most cost-effective option was the implementation of continuous monitoring approach (CMA) and directed the Secretary-General of ICAO to begin to develop the methodology and tools required to implement a CMA, including the necessary detailed guidance to States. It also directed the Secretary-General of ICAO to provide a transition period to the CMA, in order to allow States and ICAO to gradually implement the different elements of the new approach. CMA will come into effect 1 January 2013.

Comprehensive Systems Approach—Australia's Audit 2008

The conduct of audits under the comprehensive systems approach was launched on 1 January 2005. The approach consisted of three phases:

  1. Pre-audit phase. During this phase, the information provided by the State in the State Aviation Activity Questionnaire (SAAQ) and Compliance Checklists (CCs) is reviewed by SOA to analyse the type of organization for safety oversight established by the State, the implementation of Annexes provisions and the differences from SARPs identified by the States. This allows ICAO to tailor the audit in accordance with the level and complexity of aviation activities in the State and determine the duration of the audit and the size and required composition of the audit team.
  2. On-site phase. During this phase, the State is visited by an ICAO audit team to validate the information provided by the State and conduct an on-site audit of the States system and overall capability for safety oversight. This includes an audit of the organization, processes, procedures and programmes established and maintained by the State to help it fulfill its safety oversight obligations.
  3. Post-audit phase. This phase encompasses all the activities following the on-site audit, including the preparation of the audit interim report, the development by the State of its corrective action plan and the completion of the audit final report. In accordance with Assembly Resolution A35-6, the audit final reports are made available to Contracting States in their entirety through a secure website, along with information derived from the AFDD.

The ICAO assessment of Australia's safety oversight system took place between 8–28 February 2008.

The results of the 2008 audit, including Australia's Corrective Action Plan, are available at the ICAO website, which includes the background to ICAO's USOAP program in Chapter 1—Introduction.