The FAA proposed a rule Tuesday that requires charter, commuter and air tour operators, and aircraft manufacturers to use an important safety approach to bring about the safest era in aviation history.
The Safety Management System (SMS) is a set of policies and steps that has companies identify, watch and address any potential operational hazards early on. U.S. airlines have been required to have SMS since 2018.
The SMS program is a “formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls. It includes systematic procedures, practices and policies for the management of safety risk.”
“Expanding Safety Management Systems to other players in the aviation industry will reduce accidents and incidents and save lives,” Acting FAA Admin Billy Nolen said. “As safe and efficient as our system is today, we must always strive to achieve the next level of safety.”
The NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy tweeted support for the rule stating, “We applaud the FAA for this major step forward in aviation safety.”
The NTSB continued stating that they had observed many accidents that would have likely been prevented by an SMS system and the organization has had many safety recommendations asking for safety enhancement.
The proposed rule will support the FAA’s approach to detect and correct potential safety issues before it results in accidents.
The FAA encouraged members in the aviation industry other than scheduled airlines to use the SMS program voluntarily. Boeing, Bell, GE, P&W and Sikorsky have approved the program.
The Aircraft Certification, Safety and Accountability Act of 2020 directed the FAA to mandate the SMS program for aircraft manufactures and the new proposed rule goes beyond those requirements. The rule will also address the NTSB recommendations and independent review panels.
General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO Pete Bunce issued a statement regarding the issue, “For years, GAMA has been a strong supporter for the development of safety management system (SMS) standards for aviation manufacturers and maintenance organizations.”
“We participated in the SMS Aviation Rulemaking Committee which submitted its recommendations in 2014 and then in the subsequent years developed SMS standards and best practices that have been voluntarily adopted by manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, including EASA’s SMS rules for manufacturers that will become applicable in March of this year,” Bunce said. “SMS improves safety and fosters a robust safety oversight culture that permeates from top to bottom and across lines of business which positively impacts a company’s management, employees, products and services. We strongly endorse appropriate implementation of SMS standards and look forward to reviewing and commenting on the FAA’s proposed SMS rule.”
The compliance times will vary between one and two years after the rule takes effect, depending on the operation.
The public comment period for this proposed rule will be 60 days.