General Aviation. Direct & Unfiltered.

Business Operators Need to Think About SMS Now

October 20, 2009 -- Part 135 certificate holders need to begin taking advantage of the benefits of next-generation, closed-loop safety and compliance processes. These processes improve safety systems oversight, risk management, and regulatory reporting for compliance. Operators also benefit from improved fleet availability and dispatch reliability leading to increased profitability. Implementing next-generation, closed-loop systems will pay for itself and support the SMS mandate when it arrives. So, the question many Part 135 operators have to answer is, why wait?

SMS is coming to Part 135 operators as early as 2012, according to ATP, a Qualified Certification Consultancy listed on the FAA website. It is already an ICAO mandate, and Advanced Notice for Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) has been registered. Under FAA Advisory Circular AC 120-92, a set of risk management guidelines consistent with the ICAO regulations was published for Part 135 operators. As guidelines they do not have the force of law. However, in the wake of some high profile accidents involving chartered business jets, the FAA has come to recognize that the safety infrastructure at many Part 135 carriers, while generally safe, is not as institutionalized as necessary. As a result, compliance, safety and training programs are under increased scrutiny.

“Any FAA inspector will tell you that SMS is coming to business operators, so the sooner they choose to implement modern compliance and safety processes into their operations the better,” said Bob Trevelyan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ATP. “It’s better to be proactive and implement these processes prior to the mandate so you can take the time to understand how the changes effect your operation and immediately begin to take advantage of the efficiencies they produce,” continued Mr. Trevelyan.

Implementing a next-generation, closed-loop compliance and safety environment has real benefits including:

• Safety and Risk Management – reduces risk and predicts failure. SMS processes have proven to be an indispensable tool for reducing accidents.

• Compliance – improved insight into risk management and better regulatory compliance reporting.

• Return on Investment – proven way to save money and improve efficiency, fleet availability and dispatch reliability. It makes good business sense to begin implementing SMS processes today.

SMS is still confusing to many operators. A large part of the challenge is that the FAA has simply not finalized the SMS rule yet. That said; there are principles to SMS that can be implemented today to build next-generation processes and create the foundation for SMS when it is finalized. These principles include:

1. Next generation documentation processes
2. Realistic and concrete safety measurement metrics
3. Closed-loop evaluation processes
4. Controlled change management processes
5. Real-time regulatory validation and communication processes
6. Extensive training on how a safety culture works
7. Dedicated management to a safety culture

With the help of a Qualified Certification Consultancy, like ATP, you will look into your day to day operations and implement these next-generation processes in order to realize the benefits. We are all being introduced to solutions that focus on creating checklists, or offering SMS in a box. According to ATP, this type of solution will not generate the results you need. You must approach SMS with the intent to create a comprehensive view of risk management and safety systems.

“We're experts in our chosen field of endeavor, namely aircraft management, charter and maintenance, but we are not expert technical writers,” said Darrin Perdue, President and CEO of SP Aviation in Hayward California. “To say that we could set aside the massive amount of time and manpower to re-design our manual system ourselves is to deny reality. We could attempt it, but in the end, it would be just another band-aid fix as opposed to a long term solution."

Building your safety programs and promoting a culture of safety in your company are the foundation for a modern, efficient organization ready for the SMS mandate, and operators must rely on the expertise of companies like ATP to get it done right and get immediate benefits and ROI. You can learn more about the services provided by ATP by visiting or calling 415-330-9500.

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ATP’s unique combination of innovative technology, skilled aviation professionals, and a deep understanding of safety information management systems generates proven intelligence solutions for the compliance challenges of the aviation industry. ATP is also the world’s largest single source provider of aviation maintenance and regulatory information, offering over 700 maintenance libraries from aviation’s leading airframe, engine, propeller and manufacturers including critical regulatory information from the FAA, ICAO, EASA, and other international civil aviation authorities, and are accessed with the industry standard NavigatorV® software platform.