How Safe Is Safe? A Canadian Air Carriers (CAC) Safety Behavior Investigation

Angeline Ram, John F. O’Connell, Marina Efthymiou, Eric Tchouamou Njoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of safety within an organization is determined by the implementation of a Safety Management System (SMS), organizational culture, management commitment and behaviour, the activity of staff themselves, and to what degree safety reporting is upheld (Cohen, Wiegmann and Shappell, 2015). Canada was the first country globally to implement regulation mandating a Safety Management System (SMS) program. Many Canadian air carriers (CAC) proudly announce safety as a top priority, which is achieved through their SMS program. Amidst aviation’s verbal safety saturation, safety is often communicated as the top priority within the industry; however, are the public declarations consistent with CAC practices? This paper investigates whether safety behaviour within CAC is aligned to the objectives of the SMS. In-depth interviews with seven senior safety experts were conducted to identify areas of improvement and a survey with 164 respondents. This research found that there are many areas of improvement of the safety performance of CAC. Factors, which affect safety reporting behaviour and the priority of safety, include management’s support of a safety culture, job function, and the number of air carriers an individual has worked for. This research also suggests that a job function that was created to instil public confidence is more likely to deviate from safety procedures and less likely to report. A template for safety success, which influences organizational culture resulting in economic viability output, is proposed and recommendations for safety culture enforcement by the regulators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Air Transport Studies.
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


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