FAA Seeks More Time On Safety Management Plan

 - January 30, 2009, 5:57 AM

Because it has not completed guidelines for a Safety Management System (SMS) for U.S. operators, the FAA filed a “difference” with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) early last month over the Jan. 1, 2009 deadline for having SMS requirements.

Compliance with the ICAO standards depends on FAA action to define specific requirements, but the agency has not yet developed regulations or policy for implementation of SMS by operators. The FAA has published Advisory Circular (AC) 120-92, “Introduction to Safety Management Systems for Air Operators,” which contains information for operators to develop SMS programs voluntarily.

At present, there are no authorized provisions for FAA approval or acceptance of SMS programs, but additional guidance and tools are being developed. The agency said industry CEOs, management officials, safety officers and FAA managers and inspectors should note the contents of Information for Operators No. 08053 issued Nov. 26, 2008.

The AC introduces the concept of a safety management system to aviation service providers such as airlines, air-taxi operators, corporate flight departments and pilot schools. It is not currently required for U.S. certificate holders and does not constitute a regulation.

While the FAA encourages each aviation service provider to develop and implement an SMS, the agency said these systems in no way substitute for regulatory compliance or other certificate requirements, where applicable. The AC applies to certified and non-certified air operators that want to develop and implement an SMS.

In AC 120-92, the FAA cited several other ACs that might be of value to users if they want to integrate them with an SMS. They are AC 120-59A, “Air Carrier Internal Evaluation Programs”; AC 120-66, “Aviation Safety Analysis Programs (ASAP)”: AC 120-79, “Developing and Implementing a Continuing Analysis and Surveillance System”; and AC 120-82, “Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA).”

In filing its “difference” with ICAO, the FAA began talks with other countries to honor the agency’s difference.