EBACE Convention News

EASA Proposes SMS for Parts OEMs and Maintenance Providers

 - April 29, 2019, 9:10 AM

A ­notice of proposed amendment (NPA) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) would require that safety management systems (SMSs) be applied to EASA Part 145 maintenance organizations for non-general aviation aircraft and to EASA Part 21 aircraft parts and component manufacturers. Currently, SMS programs are required for commercial flight operators in Europe.

EASA said that the new rules are based on the 2013 ICAO Annex19 recommended standards for application of SMS principles for Parts 145 and 21. As such, organizations with a general aviation scope would not be required to implement an SMS; In addition, Part 147 maintenance training facilities would also be excluded. This means that SMSs would be required only for a Part 145 organization that maintains aircraft operated by air carriers and complex motor-powered aircraft, such as turbine business airplanes and helicopters.

The NPA is divided into three parts. Part A contains the procedural information pertaining to the regulatory proposal overall; explanatory notes to the proposed amendments; the regulatory impact assessment; and a detailed summary of the proposed amendments. Part B proposes the draft implementing rules (IRs) as well as the draft Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) for Part 21. And Part C proposes the draft IRs, AMC, and GM for Part 145.

EASA said application of SMS principles would enhance safety for maintenance facilities and parts providers by establishing safety policies and objectives that are associated with sufficient resources; the systematic identification of hazards; encourage a risk management system; and give consideration to safety performance and safety promotion. The proposed amendments also aim to “streamline the procedures for oversight, and introduce a set of new, common management system requirements for [state] authorities to increase their efficiency.”

The proposed changes also introduce flexibility provisions regarding an SMS that would be commensurate with the size of the organization and complexity of the operations, so it will limit the impact on small Part 145 facilities and Part 21 manufacturers with a limited scope of work.

Part 21 SMS Multifaceted

Starting from the scope defined by ICAO Annex 19, three options are proposed to define the applicability of SMSs to Part 21. Option 0 strictly follows the recommended standards of  ICAO Annex 19: All organizations that design and produce parts, including aircraft, engines, and propellers would be covered by the proposed requirements.

Option 1 would require the implementation of ICAO Annex 19 by all organizations that design and produce only aircraft, engines, and propellers. Manufacturers that design and produce “parts and appliances” would be excluded from SMS requirements. Under this option, Part 21 parts and appliance manufacturers are entitled to demonstrate their design capabilities with the acceptance of certification procedures that are alternatives to design organization approvals (DOAs).

“This option would imply that, in some cases, an organization may be required to be approved even without having an SMS in place (such as in the case of a European TSO),” EASA said. In this case, two types of DOA and production organization approval (POA) would be needed: those who are required to implement an SMS and those who are exempted.” This leads to Option 2.

Under Option 2, the implementation of ICAO Annex 19 would be limited to all approved organizations that design and produce aircraft, engines, and propellers and to organizations that design and produce parts and appliances when a DOA or POA is required. “In other words, when a POA is required for a TSO or a POA/DOA is required for an APU.”

Benefits and Drawbacks of the NPA  

The proposed changes, which essentially implement ICAO Annex 19 through the introduction of SMS principles, safety risk management, and continuous improvement programs, will “foster an organizational safety culture for effective safety management and effective occurrence reporting, whether it is mandatory or voluntary,” EASA said. The proposal will also serve to “streamline as much as possible” the oversight requirements for Part 145 and Part 21 organizations, due to an approach that is common throughout all the European Union states.  

However, for some organizations, the transition to establishing an approved SMS program will not be without an economic impact. These transitional drawbacks stem from (a) developing a safety policy and its related objectives; (b) appointing key safety personnel to execute the safety policy; (c) establishing, implementing, and maintaining a safety risk management process; (d) establishing, implementing, and maintaining a safety assurance process; and (e) promoting safety in the organization.

The negative impact is likely to be greater on smaller organizations that have fewer staff and less financial capabilities, as well as Part 21 facilities in general compared to Part 145 companies. To mitigate this negative impact, the NPA includes so-called “proportionality provisions” that it says can “contribute to a significant reduction of the costs, notably for small organizations or when the risks associated with the business are limited.” Nevertheless, EASA concludes that, “Considering there are both significant positive and negative economic impacts, an overall neutral effect is expected.”

Comments on the NPA are due by July 17.