SMS is coming for Part 135s, air tour operators, Part 145s, and PMA—volunteer now to get ahead of the SAFETY CURVE

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SMS has brought demonstrable benefits to P121 carriers

Administrator adds P135s, air tour operators, P145s and PMAs to SMS

There are benefits to implementing SMS NOW

Administrator Dickson choose a virtual helicopter safety conference to announce the FAA will be issuing NPRMs which would apply SMS to air taxis, air tour operators, repair stations and PMA holders. Expectations are that the proposals will be issued by the 2nd quarter of 2022. Safety Management Systems have proved to decrease the risks inherent in airlines:


GAO Quant Jocks Missed The Real Safety Benefit Of SMS Compliance sms accident rates

Strong Evidence That SMS/ASIAS/CAST/Compliance Is Working


2014 Was A VERY GOOD Year For US Airline Safety & 2015/2016/20NN Should Be Better With SMS

SMS’s primary benefit derives from the operator’s data which is accumulated into very large electronic files and then analyzed to find trends. The numbers collected result in proactive recommendations which have saved lives and avoid the massive costs associated with accidents.

SMS is a process which improves on iterations of reviews ; the targets for improvements become more focused. Time also contributes to inculcation of this safety culture from top to bottom of each organization. To be productive, SMS requires a discipline and the earlier it is implemented, the more effective the organization’s dedication to the constant surveillance and awareness.

sms safety first

Qualitative advantages include:

  1. Better safety culture
  2. Improved safety in operational environment
  3. Better compliance results
  4. Less accidents
  5. Less unacceptable safety incidents
  6. Better safety-decision making
  7. More safety data
  8. Improved safety documentation
  9. Better performance on inspections/audits (i.e., better interaction with oversight agencies)

Business Benefits of Aviation Safety Management Systems

Airlines and other aviation service providers and manufacturers can literally live or die by their safety reputation.

Alaska Airlines is a great example of (a primarily West Coast) airline in the United States that has become the outstanding choice for consumers to fly with largely because of safety and quality practices. They were successful enough to recently become the primary business holder in a merger with Virgin Airlines. Here are the major business benefits of adopting an aviation SMS.

  1. Better reputation among consumers and in media
  2. Higher sales volume
  3. More trust with investors
  4. Better stability
  5. Improved revenue stream and less overhead costs (see Financial Benefits section)
  6. Higher percentage of long-term employees results in better Norms
  7. Easier to implement any organizational changes
  8. Better long term decision making
  9. Better long term planning ability

Quality Management Benefits of Aviation Safety Management System

Quality management systems and safety management systems work extremely well together. When organizations adopt a quality-safety management system (QSMS) they see outstanding benefits in terms of overall organizational health and productivity. Here are ways that SMS compliments QMS:

  1. Ability to reach higher product standards
  2. Ability to produce higher product standards (i.e., customer service, amenities, etc.)
  3. More quality control (safety always bleeds into quality control)
  4. Easier to reach quality goals with quality safety performance
  5. Better resource management leads to higher quality QMS tools
  6. More comprehensive (well rounded) productivity
  7. Better ability to meet challenges (i.e., high volume traffic seasons)

Financial Benefits of Aviation Safety Management System

In terms of the bottom line, adopting SMS has huge financial incentives for businesses. For a fantastic study on exactly what kind of return on investment (ROI) for implementing an SMS a company might, click the link. Here are some of the major financial benefits of adopting a safety management system:

  1. Higher business reputation results in more business/better stock prices (net worth of airline can decrease by as much as 25% after an accident [1])
  2. Reduced cost of lost/damaged equipment
  3. Reduced medical costs
  4. Lower insurance premiums
  5. Reduced legal fees
  6. Reduced damage claims
  7. Reduced number of fines
  8. Reduced payroll costs (less lost time by employees)
  9. Reduced worker’s compensation (one company saw their workers comp fall 92% in the 12 years after they adopted SMS [1])

Employee Benefits of Aviation Safety Management System

The main benefit for employees in whose workplace has an SMS program is the marked improvement in work satisfaction and quality operational conditions – i.e., better aviation safety culture. We can break this down into the following benefits:

  1. Better health and safety in the workplace
  2. Better productivity for all operations
  3. Better teamwork practices and safety culture (see Teamwork Human Factor)
  4. Improved work quality conditions and worker satisfaction (i.e., resources, relationship with management, trust in job security, etc.)
  5. Less probability of accidents
  6. Reduced lost time due to workplace accidents
  7. Reduced employee turnover
  8. Reduced absenteeism (i.e., less aversion to working environment results in less missed time)
  9. More resources and guidance for behavior


More pointedly, here is a micro example of SMS’s economic value:

To demonstrate this method of identifying and collecting SMS-related costs and calculating the financial benefits of SMS mitigation, let us examine two different events from two Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) organizations, one a large business aviation service provider

…In the simplest of terms, this MRO‟s action of assembling a committee to investigate and develop a solution to the wiring harness/door hinge problem is a $1430 fix for a $27,000 problem. Assuming four aircraft of that type are serviced per year, the ROI calculation for avoiding just one incident is:

Return on Investment = (Payback – Investment) ÷ Investment or: ROI = ($27,000 – $2,600) ÷ $2,600 ROI = 938%

[there are more examples in the Center for Aviation Safety Research-- 
Aviation Safety Management Systems Return on Investment Study ]

On a more macro basis–The Business Case for Investment in Safety by the National Safety Council.

FAA Developing Broader SMS Mandate for Part 135 and 145

by Mark Huber

– October 27, 2020, 4:27 PM

Administrator Dickson at Helicopter

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson hopes the agency will have a proposed rule mandating safety management systems (SMS) for air taxi and air tour operators, repair stations, and PMA parts providers by second-quarter 2022, he said on Monday at the FAA’s Virtual International Rotorcraft Safety Conference.


The agency is also working on a separate rule mandating SMS[1] for airports, he airports smsadded. Dickson also used the occasion to encourage helicopter operators to voluntarily modernize their aircraft with crash-resistant fuel systems, seats, and structures.

A former airline pilot, Dickson said the agency’s goal is to spread the safety record of Part 121 air carriers, which are required to have an SMS, downstream to the rest of aviation by moving “the ball forward in a collaborative way.” The safety systems employed by Part 121 carriers can be “progressively deployed” and scaled “throughout the aerospace industry,” he said.

“It’s no secret that the airline industry in the U.S. is the gold standard when it comes to unprecedented safety levels. It’s the safest form of transportation in human history and one of the key elements to that the success story is the collaboration, partnership, and sharing of information and data between all stakeholders,” he said. Dickson further noted that the keys to successful SMS programs “are the practices of flight data monitoring and safety reporting using proactive, data-driven approaches to oversight that prioritize safety over all else and do it in a systematic way,” accompanied by a just culture.  

sms pro

The ultimate benefit of ubiquitous SMS is the generation of data that can be used to prevent 
“what could be an accident or incident in the making” and encourage operators to “use flight 
data monitoring as feedback into their training programs and ideally make it part of a 
systematic SMS process,” Dickson said. That includes sharing data across organizations via FAA FAAST teams, industry workshops and organizations, and industry safety experts.

He singled out the FAA’s Helicopter InfoShare program, which began meetings late last year, and the offshore energy’s Helicopter Safety Advisory Council, whose best practices are “easily adaptable to other helicopter sectors.” Additionally, he praised the work of the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST).

Dickson stressed that a recommitment to safety was essential toward the goal of knocking down the helicopter fatal accident rate that has “remained roughly the same” for the last 15 years.

Noting that 90 percent of all helicopter fatalities are caused by blunt force trauma, Dickson called on operators to voluntarily install crash-resistant seats and structures, as well as crash-resistant fuel tanks required on new production helicopters. “Thousands of helicopters in our legacy fleet aren’t required to have these features. Why not consider retrofitting these upgrades now?” he asked.

Administrator Dickson

Now’s the time to implement SMS to bring immediate benefits to your organization.

[1] On October 7, 2010, the FAA published an NPRM entitled “Safety Management System for Certificated Airports” (75 FR 62008).

sms close


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