The aviation industry was buzzing this week with the news of the released guidelines for SMS implementation from the FAA. This Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) provided clarifications, guidelines, and a timeline to what will be coming soon in SMS implementation.
The FAA has proposed that an SMS be “developed, implemented, maintained, and adhered to” at all certificated small, medium, and large hub airports, all airports with a port of entry or international designation, and airports with over 100,000 total annual operations. According to the FAA, this accounts for 268 airports operating in the United States, covering over 98% of all U.S. passenger enplanements.
It is no secret that the FAA has been planning to implement SMS requirements for some time. In fact, the first proposed rulemaking on SMS was released in October 2010. Since then, many adjustments have been made and several pilot programs have been conducted. These efforts and studies, along with industry feedback, have led the FAA to their current proposal. Many airports – including Cat X airports such as Denver International – have already implemented an SMS program to stay ahead of these forthcoming regulations.
But what exactly will an SMS need to accomplish for an airport? In short, an SMS should operate as “a management system for integrating safety activities into normal day-to-day business practices.” The four components of SMS; safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion must be addressed and integrated throughout the airport’s organization by an SMS program. In turn, this will allow airport personnel to identify and mitigate hazards and risks before they cause incidents or accidents, and plan everyday operations in a manner that enhances safety.
For airport executives, the time to act on this news is now. The FAA making significant strides toward implementing this SMS requirement. It is imperative that airport executives begin to look into these requirements and begin planning how their airports will comply with them.
To view the referenced SNPRM, click here.