Aircraft system safety assessments are not a new concept. These safety assessments have a defined process for evaluating an aircraft which involve identifying its failure modes, top-level events, and eventual means to achieve an unsafe condition. Documents such as the SAE ARP4761 provide guidelines and methods for conducting the safety assessment process on civil airborne systems and equipment.
To follow the typical development cycle, the aircraft failure hazard assessment (FHA) is followed by the system failure hazard assessment and performed in parallel with the preliminary system safety assessments (PSSAs). This then evolves into the system safety assessments (SSA) and common cause analyses (CCAs). For those with a systems reliability background, this should all be second nature. For the rest of the community, these are often terms that we come across because of our work in this field.