FAA Proposes Safety Management Systems

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The FAA has issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) that would require a broad spectrum of aviation businesses, from repair stations to airlines, to implement formal "safety management systems" that document the safety procedures throughout the operation. The International Civil Aviation Organization defines an SMS as "systematic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures." However, the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) calls it an "overarching, regulatory 'blanket' to your business" that it says even the FAA admits is a major administrative and operational burden. The AEA is urging members to comment on the NPRM but not before they attend a seminar on its potential impact. The AEA is afraid members will inadvertently signal support for the proposal if they don't get the straight goods from the meetings.

At the heart of the SMS is a formalized decision-making process that business owners would "use to plan, organize, direct and control their normal, day-to-day business processes." However, the FAA is quick to point out that in no way does an SMS substitute for or override all the paper trails it already requires to ensure compliance with its own regulations. "Therefore, the FAA is proposing a significant additional burden without any financial, administration or administrative benefit to AEA members," the AEA said in a news release.