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Industry leaders review proposes mandating of SMS for charter
A proposed rule is intended to improve aviation safety by requiring organisations to implement a proactive approach to managing safety. Operators have one or two years to comply.

The US Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a rule that requires charter, commuter and air tour operators and aircraft manufacturers to implement a critical safety approach that has already helped create the safest era in aviation history.

The safety management system (SMS) programme is a set of policies and procedures where companies identify, monitor and address potential operational hazards early on, before they become serious problems. US airlines have been required to have SMS since 2018.

“Expanding safety management systems to other players in the aviation industry will reduce accidents and incidents and save lives,” says 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 rule would support the FAA's preventive approach that detects and corrects potential safety issues before they result in accidents or incidents. The administration has strongly encouraged aviation industry members other than scheduled airlines to voluntarily implement SMS; Boeing, Bell, GE, P&W and Sikorsky all have approved SMS programmes.

The proposed rule goes beyond the requirements of the Aircraft Certification, Safety and Accountability Act of 2020, which directed the FAA to mandate SMS only for aircraft manufacturers, and also addresses recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board and independent review panels. It would more closely align the US with Annex 19 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, and is intended to improve aviation safety by requiring organisations to implement a proactive approach to managing safety. Compliance times would vary between one and two years after the rule took effect, depending on the operation.

The Air Charter Safety Foundation has organised an aviation safety leadership committee to review this highly anticipated proposed rule.

“The ACSF is very pleased to see that the SMS NPRM is being issued,” says ACSF president Bryan Burns, who cites the NPRM's impact on the required implementation of SMS in Part 135 charter operations, air tour operations and Part 91 certificate holders. “The ACSF has long been an advocate for voluntary adoption of SMS, and, as such, we provide an industry standard and training to effectively implement an SMS.

“Moreover, the ACSF's board leadership has a cross-section of industry experts that represent air charterers and manufacturers who've been actively engaged in promoting recommended safety practices. These industry leaders are already reviewing the proposed rule making to ensure that it addresses the variety, complexity and size of many of our member companies as they pursue a pathway to compliance.”

The ACSF will submit the results of its SMS NPRM review to the FAA on or before the deadline of 13 March, 2023.

GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce adds: “For years, GAMA has been a strong supporter for the development of SMS standards for aviation manufacturers and maintenance organisations. We participated in the SMS Aviation Rule-making 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.

"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.”

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