FAA Part 135 SMS for EU Flights
Many Part 135 Charter operators do not have in place an FAA approved Safety Management System, because the regulations (14 CFR Part 5) do not yet apply to your operation (the FAA is considering SMS regulations for other groups of aviation service providers, including Part 135 operators and Part 145 repair stations). The Part 121 operators must meet the requirements of SMS and their programs must be acceptable to the Administrator by March 9, 2018. The on-demand 135 carriers have no worries YET, UNLESS you intend to fly to the EASA countries.
The AFS SMS Program Office issued the following advisory:
New EASA TCO SMS Requirements Coming this Fall
On April 29, 2014, the EU published Commission Regulation No. 452/2014. This regulation sets forth requirements for Third Country Operators (TCO). EASA defines a third party operator as any operator holding an air operator certificate issued by a third country. Under the new EASA regulation, the TCO must meet the requirements of ICAO Annex 19, Safety Management Systems by November 26, 2016. What this means is if you fly to Europe, you must apply for, and receive a TCO authorization. Part of the approval process is to have a state recognized SMS in accordance with Annex 19.
One fundamental part of ICAO’s Standards and EASA’s risk based considerations for TCO acceptance is State (FAA) oversight.
Part 135 operators will require an authorization when flying to Europe under TCO. EASA has said they will not require an authorization under the TCO for fractional operations.
EASA’s SMS requirements in TCO authorizations are based on ICAO standards. ICAO standards in Annex 19 require that an operator’s SMS must be “acceptable to the State” (U.S. FAA). Because of this requirement, the FAA does not currently recognize third-party sponsored SMSs for
The SMS Voluntary Program (SMSVP) is available to part 135, 145, 141, 1nd 142 organizations and is accepted by the FAA. For more information, contact the AFS SMS Program Office.
The EU’s Commission Regulation (EU) No 452/2014 indicates that it will accept an FAA SMSVP. The FAA’s voluntary program allows a US Part 135 to submit its proposal and get approval. The time, between now and the deadline, requires (a) that the process is initiated NOW and (b) that the application moves smoothly through the relevant FAA offices. In order to be ready to meet requests for charters to Europe on or after November 25, it would appear wise to involve an experienced consultant—
- One which has been through the process many times.
- One which has dealt with the demands of the FAA.
- One which has run the traps of setting up the appropriate organizations, processes, procedures and people to maximize SMS’s value to the airline.
- One which has written, with the buy-in of the company’s SMS team, a manual which has been shown to be easily comprehended, easily used and highly effective.
- One which knows how to inculcate the SMS discipline throughout the organization (horizontally and vertically).
- One which knows how to get and retain the attention of senior management.
- One which has designed and implemented a data system, which is
- Designed for this carrier’s operations, risks and needs
- Proven to work in prior engagements with Part 135s.
- One which, simply put, is proven to work.
Without these competences, the SMS approval can take a long time. More importantly, merely filling in the blanks can only create problems. The airline might be able to recover from difficulties with the FAA; however, sub-optimization of the SMS investment may have more serious consequences, like:
- Poor data collection leading to pursuing “problems,” which may not be really statistically relevant or which may not merit the priority bad data or bad projections.
- Poor analysis of the numbers obscuring real solutions.
- Diminishing commitment by staff assigned to SMS team because of
- poor training of the participants who have not believed in the SMS principles since the program’s initiation and/or
- who have lost their enthusiasm due to poor processes and/or
- who withhold their attention because the flawed analyses have had underwhelming results.
These or like SMS implementation flaws are likely to not find real risks or inappropriately respond to matters needing immediate attention.
SMS is an excellent tool for minimizing risk based on valid quantitative methodology, if and only if the certificate holder deals with it on a professional basis. The one-off version becomes a painful albatross which consumes time and delivers little. SMS compliance is a predicate to operating to/from/within the EU after November 25, but it can and should be more of a commitment to a permanent company safety culture.