Both passenger and cargo airlines are required to submit an SMS implementation plan to FAA within six months. Each airline will be required to have an “accountable executive” to oversee its SMS. FAA said each carrier will be allowed “to design an SMS to match the size, complexity and business model of its organization,” adding, “An SMS does not take the place of regular FAA oversight, inspection and audits to ensure compliance with regulations.”
At a press conference Wednesday in Washington DC at US Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters, US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx described a SMS as “predictive safety management” that uses “technology, data, analytics” to identify potential hazards.
Airlines for America (A4A) president and CEO Nicholas Calio appeared at the press conference alongside Foxx and FAA administrator Michael Huerta to give the industry’s endorsement of the rule, saying airlines had already been taking steps to implement SMSs and share safety data with each other.
“A4A members are fierce competitors, except when it comes to safety,” Calio said. “We’ve long endorsed a risk-based approach to both safety and security.” He added that “data helps drive better decision making” and “we think [a SMS is] a very good program.”
Huerta said, “The carriers are embracing this approach.” He added, “This is an incredibly safe industry, but this is a best practice to make it safer.”
Huerta said the sharing and analysis of routine data can identify “patterns” that wouldn’t be seen otherwise. “Let’s say we are seeing, at a particular airport, a very small number of an activity, such as a rejected takeoff,” he explained. “If we start to see this across carriers and the airport is the commonality, do we have an operational procedure that needs to change? Without the SMS, the data would be fragmented” and the pattern could go unnoticed.
Huerta said SMSs are increasingly being used by airlines and aviation authorities around the world. “This has been adopted as a best practice through the ICAO framework,” he said. “This specific [FAA] rule is being applied to carriers under FAA jurisdiction, but [the SMS approach] is being widely deployed around the world.”
(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)