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Thursday, January 8, 2015

FAA Announces Final Rule on Safety Management Systems for Airlines

Juliet Van Wagenen

[Avionics Today 01-08-2014] The FAA has issued a final rule that requires most U.S. commercial airlines to have Safety Management Systems (SMS) in place by 2018. The rule builds on the programs many airlines already use to identify and reduce aviation risk.

The rule requires airlines to implement a Safety Management System within three years. They must submit their implementation plans to the FAA within six months. The rule also requires a single accountable executive to oversee SMS. An SMS defines what is expected rather than how the requirement is to be met, allowing each air carrier to design an SMS to match the size, complexity and business model of its organization. An SMS does not take the place of regular FAA oversight, inspection and audits to ensure compliance with regulations, the FAA stated in a release regarding the announcement.

“Our commercial aviation industry is a world-leader and model for risk mitigation and I’m proud that so many airlines have embraced the SMS culture voluntarily. Now the FAA and the air carrier industry are taking the next step,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “The FAA’s workforce also is transitioning to a proactive, risk-based culture so we can effectively target our resources.”

The FAA estimates the rule will cost the airlines $224.3 million over 10 years, but the benefits will range from $205 million to $472.3 million over 10. The FAA is offering a federally developed and funded software system to help airlines implement SMS.

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