ARSA SMS Comments Focus on Micromanagement, Due Process

ARSA filed comments on Sept. 6 in response to European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) 2019-05, Embodiment of safety management system (SMS) requirements into Parts 145 and 21 of EASA’s rules.

The proposed changes would initially apply only to approved maintenance organizations within the European Union and to those outside the EU regulated directly by EASA (i.e., not to facilities that hold certificates pursuant to a bilateral aviation safety agreement). However, it’s likely SMS will become a “special condition” required by EASA for AMOs holding certificates through a bilateral. It’s therefore important for repair stations serving European customers to be aware of the potential rule changes, regardless of where located.

ARSA told EASA that the association shares the agency’s objective of improving aviation safety and generally supports encouraging AMOs to adopt SMS policies. The association also commended EASA for recognizing the complexity associated with managing compliance within companies with multiple certificates and that a one-size-fits all solution is inappropriate for a diverse industry made up of companies with various sizes and specialties.

However, ARSA is concerned that certain provisions of the NPA run contrary to the philosophy underlying SMS, suggest a lack of confidence in the systems required by the new rules, would create new and unnecessary burdens for certificate holders and regulators and would potentially undermine safety. For example, the proposed regulation would require certificate holders to obtain prior approval by the competent authority for many types of organization changes, including personnel involved in safety management.

ARSA believes a fundamental concept underlying SMS is that safety depends on the organization and its processes, not individuals. “Requiring the regulator to approve personnel changes made in accordance with the company’s SMS defeats the purpose of the system and the proposed regulatory changes,” ARSA said.

“It is the company’s responsibility, not that of regulators, to manage operations and make decisions about who is best suited to ensure compliance, safety and the company’s success. If the company has properly designed and implemented its SMS, the new employees appointed to key positions should be presumed qualified and trained.”

ARSA said the new approval requirements “would give regulators unprecedented authority over internal personnel changes, diverting competent authority resources and undermining the ability of certificate holders to manage their businesses on a daily basis. Finally, by requiring the regulator’s approval of personnel changes, the new rule will undermine safety by thwarting a company’s ability to remove a team member whose acts or omissions run contrary to the company’s SMS.”

ARSA’s comments also expressed other concerns, including that expanded occurrence reporting requirements are too broad leading to over-reporting and clogging the regulators’ reporting system and that the rules would not afford sufficient due process to AMOs facing certificate actions.

If your company submitted comments to EASA on SMS, please send a copy to

To read ARSA’s full comments, click here.

To view a PDF file of the comments as submitted through EASA’s Comment Response Tool, click here.

Share your SMS experience or plans via this month’s “quick question”:

Quick Question – SMS Implementation

Previous SMS rule updates...

1/7/15 - FAA Announces SMS Final Rule

January 7, 2015

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 and the FAA’s SMS Office website.

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