United Safety Management System

As we continue to grow our airline, our focus on safety is more important than ever. With over one hundred thousand employees that are part of the United family, we remain proactive in reducing risks and achieving the highest level of safety performance for our customers and our employees.

Our safety management system

The foundation on which we stand is based on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements, International Civil Aviation Organization standards and the principles of our SMS—our comprehensive, formalized approach to managing safety.

We have reshaped and refocused how we approach safety and would describe the work as transformative. Our use of data and trend analysis allows us to be agile in our ability to identify and mitigate safety risks.

United’s SMS ensures we’re committed to upholding regulatory compliance safety standards, identifying hazards, elevating corrective actions, collaborating across divisions and ensuring the most effective mitigations are in place.

Constant improvement and training

Given an ever-evolving operating environment and constantly changing regulatory landscape throughout commercial aviation, United’s SMS has also evolved and continues to adapt to today’s safety risks while proactively identifying new and emerging risk areas.

As such, United has proactively expanded its SMS footprint beyond what is required from a regulatory perspective and has incorporated business teams such as Corporate Security, Cyber Security and Corporate Real Estate. The key to proactively managing safety risks at United in an integrated and coordinated way, is through leveraging the latest in data science to achieve the highest level of safety performance for our customers and our employees.

Our consistent focus to elevate safety across our enterprise will help position United as the global airline safety leader.

Components of our Safety Management System

The SMS is designed around predictive, proactive and reactive assessment and action and built upon four key components:

United’s Safety Management System is comprised of:

  1. Safety policy
  2. Safety risk management
  3. Safety assurance
  4. Safety promotion

1. Safety policy

  • Management commitment, involvement and advocacy
  • Clear roles, responsibilities and relationships
  • Procedures and controls

As part of our commitment to safety, and as a requirement of the SMS Part 5 Rule, United develops key safety objectives that are carefully curated by each operating team to reduce our safety risks. Objectives include items such as reducing our procedural errors within all operational teams, integrating our data into an industry tracking data exchange and increasing our hazard awareness at our gates.

2. Safety risk management

  • System analysis
  • Hazard identification
  • Risk analysis and assessment
  • Controlling risk

As we continue to grow our company, we are proactively identifying areas of risk and expanding where necessary to ensure our operation continues to be efficient. Key areas of focus include, adding new stations and maintenance facilities, analyzing equipment requirements to support our new aircraft and analyzing gate area and baggage room impacts.

3. Safety assurance

  • Performance monitoring and measurement
  • Data acquisition process
  • Analysis and assessment
  • Management of change
  • Continuous improvement

United has five operational-specific safety reporting programs. All programs are voluntary and non-punitive, as we believe in a just culture aimed at identifying and resolving safety concerns and hazards that could result in injuries, damages and accidents. These programs are an industry best practice and supported by the FAA. We strive to foster an environment where employees feel encouraged and comfortable reporting safety concerns and errors, as this ultimately improves the overall safety at our company.

We recently rolled out a best-in-class app, that enables every employee to report safety incidents and concerns from a work or personal device, which has resulted in an overall increase in safety reporting, thereby increasing insight into safety risks in our operation.

4. Safety promotion

  • Safety culture
  • Competencies and training
  • Communication and awareness

Our safety mantra is No Small Roles in Safety. The meaning behind this strategy is simple: when one team member does even the smallest of actions, along with 100,000 team members (and growing), it adds up to something big! Every day, our employees execute on very critical standard operating procedures. It also emphasizes that the seemingly little but important things, from ensuring the aisles are clear of debris, to making sure chocks and cones are in good condition, requires attention too

Collectively, this results in employees and customers getting to where they’re supposed to be safely and on-time. We believe when it comes to safety, everything we do matters; including looking out for each other. We strive to build a culture that builds people.