FAA Safety Assurance System is Here Are You Ready?

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At the end of 2015, the FAA Flight Standards Safety Assurance System (SAS) became the new oversight program for 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 121, 135 and 145.  Ultimately, SAS will be used for other CFR parts, including Parts 141 and 142.  For Part 121 operators that were familiar with the Air Transportation Oversight System (ATOS), SAS is similar in some respects but is different in that it takes a data supported/risk based approach for both initial certification as well as routine operator surveillance and certificate management. For Part 135 and 145 certificate holders it becomes a whole new “ball game”.

All of the Part 121, 135 and 145 existing certificated organizations are now monitored, and evaluated by their Flight Standards Offices (FSDOs) under SAS with the objective to proactively identify hazards and analyze, assess, and take action with the perceived safety related risks within the certificate holder.

The different “Parts” or certificates have been divided into eight different levels or “Peer Groups” of regulatory oversight to specifically address each functionality, size, and complexity within these regulatory groups.  For each of the Peer Groups, the FAA has developed both specific and customized Design and Performance Data Collection Tools or DCTs addressing all facets of System Safety relative to a selection of 6 Systems, 22 Subsystems, and 89 Elements to address all of the regulatory requirements for each certificate holder.  Each of these areas employ a unique set of audit tools and scheduled methodology providing FAA field inspectors the capabilities to “drill down” to the foundation of the subject areas to detect and fully evaluate the “root cause” perceived issues.

Working with and adjusting to SAS can be both daunting in its complexity and intricate in its application, keeping in mind that SAS applies to both new applicants seeking a 121, 135 or 145 certificate as well as providing routine surveillance and certificate management to certificated 121, 135 and 145 operators. In large majority of cases, especially for 135 and 145 certificate holders it may necessitate revisions to your existing manual system and letter of compliance.

It is very important that you become knowledgeable about SAS and the DCTs as soon as you can – do not wait for the FAA to contact you and tell you they are coming in to run SAS DCTS on your operational control program or other programs.  There is lots of information that can be found at the FAA website and in 8900.1 FSIMS at http://fsims.faa.gov/PICResults.aspx?mode=Search&q=sas&kw=sas&status=a&syn=1&sort=0&searchwv=0&searchfuzzy=0&

Whether you are a new applicant or an existing mega airline executive or a manager at a regional air carrier; a director at a sizable charter organization, or a smaller on-demand operation; whether a multi-state repair organization or a small independent repair station, make sure that you are prepared for SAS.

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