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FAA says hundreds of airports need safety management systems


Photo: gerenme/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a final rule that will require “more than 200 of America’s busiest commercial airports” to create safety management systems.

FAA says the use of an SMS at airports can help facilities “detect and correct safety problems before they result in aircraft accidents or incidents.”

Under the rule, published in the Feb. 23 Federal Register and aimed at addressing safety “at an organizational level,” airports meeting the following criteria will be required to implement an SMS within five years:

  • Classified as large, medium or small hubs based on passenger data from the FAA Air Carrier Activity Information System
  • Have a three-year rolling average of 100,000 or more total annual operations – meaning the sum of all arrivals and departures
  • Serve any international operation other than general aviation

In the rule, FAA cites a report on an agency pilot study on SMS showing that airports that voluntarily implemented the feature “reported better efficiency” in identifying and mitigating hazards associated with daily operations such as pedestrian safety on ramps and using ground support equipment. These airports also adopted SMS processes for significant events including construction safety and phasing planning.

“This proactive approach, along with the communication of safety issues, provides a robust mechanism for airports to improve safety,” FAA says.

The rule is set to go into effect April 24.

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