TAKE A DEEP BREATH FOLKS…….IT IS A MATTER OF AVIATION LEADERSHIP

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ARTICLE: Airport Safety Management A Matter Of Scale

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SMS is the international standard of safety regardless of the industry. Failing to adopt SMS best practices creates the greatest liability exposure and is not an option.

The FAA’s aviation regulations drive the world’s best safety performance in the most complex congested aviation system in the world. The question is………do we want to continue to lead the world in aviation safety? If so, it is time for industry to roll our sleeves up and be part of the solution. The rest of the world is already acting on SMS and watching us.

The FAA is responsible for safe operations the National Airspace System (NAS). The NAS includes all of the airspace and infrastructure used to access the airspace.

Consistent safety standards drive consistent safety. The current Part 139 airport certification system projects the same standards across certified airports for the purpose of guaranteeing that a 737 operation is as safe at any commercial airport (large or small) with infrastructure capable of operating it. Scaling of requirements present in Part 139 relate to aircraft rescue and firefighting capacity based on the size aircraft the airfield is rated for. Scaling should only be applied to items that can deliver the same outcome, such as, increasing fire retardant based on volumes of fuel in varying aircraft.

Like Part 139, SMS requirements impose the same burdens on all of the affected airports. The airport’s approach to overcoming those burdens is up to the airport. Small airports today deliver premium safety service every day meeting the same Part 139 standard as much larger airports through innovative efficiency. This same innovation and efficiency will drive their SMS program.

Education is the key. The current Part 139 regulation is the closest of the affected certifications to meeting SMS (CASR SMS Gap Analysis Conference September 2011). Many of the requirements in the NPRM already exist in Part 139. SMS utilizes documentation and data already required by 139 and adds a broader audience to identify hazards to increase safety vigilance beyond airport resources. Additionally, SMS informs the analysis of risk with data and trends that today we have no way of capturing.

SMS will revolutionize safety management in US Aviation. The FAA is leading with internal SMS already operational in Air Traffic and the onerous process of rulemakings for external SMS. If safety is priority for your organization, the time to adopt SMS is now.

The FAA’s modifications to this important safety improvement has also been a subject of this Journal.

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