Federal agencies Safety culture Air Transportation

FAA rule means more aviation entities required to have a safety management system


Photo: gerenme/iStockphoto

Washington — Commercial and charter airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and air tour operators must establish a safety management system, according to a Federal Aviation Administration final rule that went into effect May 28.

The rule describes a safety management system as “a formal, top-down, organizationwide approach to managing safety risk and ensuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls.” All SMSs must include components covering:

  • Safety policy
  • Safety risk management
  • Safety assurance
  • Safety promotion

Whereas the traditional industry approach to safety “was based on the reactive analysis of past accidents,” a SMS “helps organizations proactively identify potential hazards in the operating environment, analyze the risks of those hazards, and mitigate those risks to prevent an accident or incident,” FAA says.

The rule further calls on those required to have an SMS to “share hazard information with each other and work together to identify and address hazards and safety issues.”

A 2023 FAA final rule required an SMS in more than 200 commercial airports nationwide. The latest rule, which stemmed from investigations of separate fatal incidents, extends beyond a 2020 Congressional mandate requiring aircraft manufacturers to implement a SMS.

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