The FAA’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on safety management systems is raising so many questions that AOPA has asked the agency to step back and take another look. Safety management systems create a “structured-risk based approach to managing safety” through safety policies, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion.
The ANPRM stems from a December 2007 endorsement of an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposal to require safety management systems for international aircraft operators, aircraft manufacturers, and maintenance facilities. As of right now, the proposal does not mention Part 91 operators, only Part 21, 119, 121, 135, 142, 141, and 145.
AOPA is concerned about the proposal because it has the potential to undercut the rulemaking process by eliminating public input and cost benefit analysis. Certificate holders could be in a position of never ending problem recognition and solving regardless of cost to the operator. Under safety management systems, it could be that operators would have to address issues that normally would not make it through the rulemaking process.
“AOPA is concerned that SMS puts into place a continuous cycle of problem identification and resolution that may have unintended consequences,” AOPA Director of Aircraft and Environment Leisha Bell told the FAA in formal comments on the proposal. Bell also called on the FAA to define its role in a safety management system and to identify who would have jurisdiction over it. Until then, AOPA maintains that the FAA should not move forward with the proposal