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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally proposed a long-anticipated rule to mandate the use of safety management systems (SMS) by charter, commuter and air tour operators.
The use of SMS — a formal, organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls — is currently on a voluntary basis by part 135 operators, while part 121 commercial airlines have been required to have one in place since 2018.
An SMS requires four essential components: safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion. It also requires an organization to document the system itself and maintain any records the system produces.
“Expanding safety management systems to other players in the aviation industry will reduce accidents and incidents and save lives,” said Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen. “As safe and efficient as our system is today, we must always strive to achieve the next level of safety.”
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has long petitioned the FAA to implement such a rule, first recommending it in 2016. In its recent report on the fatal crash of and Airbus AS350 B2 in Hawaii in 2019, the NTSB said the FAA’s failure to implement its recommendations contributed to the cause of the crash.