FAA Proposes Safety Management System Requirement

Commercial carriers would have to develop and implement an SMS, which FAA describes as "an organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls." Its proposed rule lists four essential components of an SMS.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Nov. 5 proposed a rule that would require commercial air carriers to develop and implement a Safety Management System, which the proposal describes as "an organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls." The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 requires the agency to have a final rule in place by July 30, 2012.

The proposal lists four essential components of an SMS:

  • A safety policy that states safety objectives; sets forth the policies, procedures, and organizational structures necessary to accomplish the objectives; and clearly delineates management and employee responsibilities for safety throughout the organization. Regular review of the safety policy by a designated accountable executive is necessary, the proposal states.
  • Safety risk management, followed by assessment of the risk resulting from these hazards and use of controls to reduce or eliminate those risks.
  • Safety assurance, ensures the performance and effectiveness of safety risk controls. Safety assurance ensures the organization meets or exceeds its safety objectives through the collection, analysis, and assessment of data regarding the organization's performance, according to the proposal.
  • Safety promotion, which combines training and communication of safety information to employees. "How an organization seeks to comply with this component depends on the size and scope of the organization. It may include formal safety training for employees, a formal means of communicating safety information, and a means for employees to raise safety concerns without fear of retribution," the proposal states.

FAA asked for comments by Feb. 3, 2011; submit them via www.regulations.gov, using Docket Number FAA- 2009-0671.

The International Civil Aviation Organization expects member states to require that operators establish an SMS, and the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended FAA pursue this rule. FAA estimates the rule's total benefits are $1.143.1 billion, while total costs are $710.8 million.

The proposal acknowledges U.S. aviation safety is increasing but says, "However, over the past 10 years, the FAA has identified a more recent trend involving hazards that were revealed during incident and accident investigations. Many of these hazards could have been mitigated or eliminated earlier had a structured, organization-wide approach to managing air carrier's operations been in place."

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