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NBAA welcomes comment period extension on SMS rule
The FAA has agreed to a 30 day extension to the comment period regarding its proposal that business aviation operations implement proactive safety management systems, mirroring practices of commercial airlines.

The NBAA has welcomed this week's decision by the FAA to extend the public comment period on a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) that would require many business aviation operations to implement safety management systems, or SMS.

Issued earlier this month, the NPRM would update and expand 14 CFR Part 5 SMS requirements beyond Part 121 commercial airlines to certain Part 21 certificate holders, Part 135 air charter operations and companies holding a letter of authorisation to conduct air tour operations under Part 91.147.

The FAA previously set a deadline of 13 March for comments. The extension to 12 April grants the industry valuable additional time to review the proposed rule and fully assess its implications for business aviation.

“We thank the FAA for granting our request for this extension as NBAA and other stakeholders continue to review the NPRM,” says NBAA senior vice president of safety, security, sustainability and international operations Doug Carr. “However, we must ensure that any rule making permits scalability to the specific size and needs of every affected flight operation.”

In his request for an extension, Carr noted that the FAA had sought information from certain single pilot Part 135 operators who may lack the resources necessary to implement a full scale SMS.

“While we remain strongly supportive of SMS as an effective solution to help improve flight safety, we must also ensure that any rule making is rolled out responsibly and in full consideration of the varied nature of many business aviation operations,” he adds.

SMS is an important tool that can help operators proactively identify potential hazards and establish processes to effectively manage those risks. The FAA has required US airlines to implement SMS since 2018, with Congress calling on the agency in 2020 to extend those requirements to other commercial aviation operations.

In responding to Carr's request, the FAA noted that other industry stakeholders had also requested comment period extensions of up to 90 days, but the agency believes an additional 30 days provides sufficient time for commentors to weigh in on the proposal.

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