NATA Concerned with Proposed Airport SMS Plan

 - June 16, 2011, 8:30 AM

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has formally responded to the FAA’s proposed rulemaking that would require all commercially served airports as well as some serving large on-demand charter aircraft to develop and implement a safety management system (SMS). NATA commented that the SMS could grant airports–and by extension the FAA–greater authority over the operations of airport tenants. The proposed plan would extend to aircraft movement and non-movement areas on the airside of the airports, including ramp space leased by FBOs, flight schools and maintenance facilities. Under the plan, airport authorities would be required to assume responsibility for safety on these tenant ramps, which, according to the FAA, would cover “issues including employee safety, ground vehicle safety and passenger safety to the extent they are related to aircraft operations.” Mike France, NATA’s director of regulatory affairs, told AIN, “What it would do is move control of the operation from a safety standpoint from the business to the airport. The airport always has safety oversight, but to make it solely responsible for the decision is not the right direction to go.” NATA has requested a rulemaking exemption for airport areas that are leased exclusively to tenant businesses.