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FAA Announces SMS Final Rule

On Jan. 7, the FAA issued a final rule that requires most U.S. commercial airlines to have Safety Management Systems (SMS) in place by 2018. The rule builds on programs many airlines already use to identify and reduce aviation risk.

The rule requires each certificate holder operating under 14 CFR part 121 to develop and implement SMS within three years and to submit an implementation plan within six months. While the 121 requirement is not expanded to contractors or subcontractors, or entities not directly regulated by the FAA, repair stations are well aware of the “trickle-down effect” when air carriers implement and interface their SMS with contract maintenance vendors. Indeed, in the preamble to the rule, the FAA acknowledges that some air carriers may opt to extend their SMS to part 145 repair station activities. That said, the rule does not require the air carrier to require SMSs on the part of contractors, code-share partners, or other business affiliates

As stated in the NPRM, the FAA developed the framework of the rule as a means of harmonizing with ICAO standards, while establishing a uniform standard that could be extended to apply to 14 CFR part 135 (part 135) certificate holders, part 145 repair stations, and design and manufacturing entities. The uniform standard is necessary because some of these regulated entities may hold more than one FAA certificate and may need or want to create one SMS to encompass all of their aviation-related activities.

The final rule will be effective within 60 days once it’s published in the Federal Register. More information is available on FAA.gov and the FAA’s SMS Office website.



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