Feb. 17, 2023

The FAA has released its final rule draft on airport safety management systems (SMS), which the agency says will help airports detect and mitigate safety problems before they result in accidents or incidents.

The final rule applies to more than 200 of America’s busiest airports. The timeline to fully implement SMS ranges from four to five and a half years, depending on the airports’ classification and operations.

In its final rule draft, the FAA states, “As discussed in the FAA Airport SMS Pilot Study report, airports that voluntarily implemented SMS have reported better efficiency in identifying and mitigating hazards in daily activities such as pedestrian safety on ramps and operations with ground support equipment.

“These airports also used SMS processes for significant events, such as construction safety and phasing planning, to proactively identify and mitigate hazards before the start of the project,” the agency stated. “This proactive approach, along with the communication of safety issues, provides a robust mechanism for airports to improve safety.”

“NBAA is reviewing the FAA’s final rule for airport SMS programs to understand opportunities for alignment between airport and operator requirements currently seeking industry feedback,” said NBAA Senior Vice President Safety, Security, Sustainability and International Affairs Doug Carr.

The rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Read the final rule draft, Docket No. FAA-2010-0997; Amdt. No. 139-28 (PDF).

NBAA also continues to review the agency’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking, which would require that would require all Part 135 certificate holders, Part 91.147 air tour operators and certain Part 21 Type Certificate and Production Certificate holders to implement an SMS.

The comment period deadline for the NPRM is April 11. Read more about the proposes SMS mandate.