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UND earns safety certificationUND earns safety certification

The University of North Dakota has earned what it believes is the first safety management system (SMS) certification by a collegiate aviation program.

A certified SMS program is now a requirement at airlines, and for some Part 135 operators, but the safety protocol remains voluntary for Part 91. The FAA asked UND to be part of a pilot program and apply for SMS certification, which safety program leader Frank Argenziano said they thought would be relatively painless. Six years later they were approved.

SMS is a protocol that requires safety to have an equal role to operations or maintenance in an organization. For UND that meant having to develop procedures, standards, and a manual. It also meant having to train the staff and students on the safety protocol.

Aside from a clear recruiting message, a representative said the school’s biggest benefit is the required safety reporting system. “Take something like a pothole in the taxiway,” Argenziano said. “Before it wouldn’t have been fixed. But now with an SMS, those issues are taken care of.”

In the first months of implementation, the school is receiving between 55 and 60 safety reports a month, each completely free of any retribution for the student, technician, or instructor. “It’s made a heck of a difference in a lot of areas of our operations,” Argenziano said.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.
Topics: Safety and Education, Aviation Education Programs

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