Sturgell Touts SMS at Forum

By Tish Drake | November 30, 2007
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Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell urged industry to harmonize standards for safety management systems (SMS), saying the information gathered could “give us the intelligence we need before the problem reaches the headlines.” “Aviation no longer is in the business of combing through ashes and wreckage to find answers,” Sturgell told FAA’s International Safety Forum in Chantilly, Va., on Thursday. “When it comes to risks, the low-hanging fruit is long gone. SMS uses hard data to point us in the direction we need to go. We don’t have to wait for something bad to happen.” SMS systems allow operators to identify and manage risks based on hard data, conference attendees said. Sturgell described the systems as “a structure of voluntary, non-punitive reporting methods set up with an organization to foster safety awareness all across the board.” In November 2005, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) began requiring member states to have certificated international airports establish a SMS. FAA said it supports harmonization of international standards and has worked to make U.S. aviation safety regulations consistent with ICAO standards. However, other speakers at the conference said an international standard would ensure safety around the globe. FAA has opened a rulemaking project to consider a formal requirement for SMS at certificated airports. FAA said it anticipates issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking in 2008. “SMS enables you to keep your eye on the ball every single day. Ultimately, we don’t want to just meet ICAO minimums. Ultimately, our goal is to raise the bar worldwide no matter where you go. No matter what flag’s on the tail. From takeoff to touchdown and all points in between, we want to ensure a consistent level of safety,” Sturgell said.

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