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Wednesday, 13 October, 2010

FAA Proposes SMS Rules For Airports

 FAA Proposes SMS Rules For Airports

October 13, 2010

What’s at Issue
Recently the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would require airports certificated under Part 139 to develop and implement Safety Management Systems (SMS).

Why it’s Important
These proposed rules will significantly modify the way Part 139 airports manage safety issues and in turn, will also affect the way airport tenants, such as FBO’s and repair stations, interact with the airport on safety issues.

Major Provisions
This NPRM proposes changes to Part 139 that would require certificated airports to develop and implement an approved SMS program that covers both movement and non-movement areas. The FAA is expanding its regulatory authority in this NPRM by imposing SMS requirements on the non-movement areas of the airport.  Currently the FAA does not impose regulatory requirements on non-movement areas.

SMS Program Components
The changes proposed outline the framework of what components would be required of an Airport SMS program and include:

  1. Safety Policy
  2. Safety Risk Management Program
  3. Safety Assurance Program
  4. Safety Promotion Program

Additional information on the FAA’s vision of what those four components would entail is available in Advisory Circular 150/3200-37.

The FAA has proposed a tiered approach to implementation dependent on the class of the airport. Phase one would require the submission of an implementation plan, and phase two would be the actual implementation of the SMS program. The chart below indicates the time frame for the phase by airport class.

Airport Class

Implementation Plan Due:

Implementation Completed within:


6 months after the effective date of the final rule

18 months of the effective date of the final rule

II, III and IV

9 months after the effective date of the final rule

24 months of the effective date of the final rule

NATA Position
NATA supports the move towards increased use of safety management systems throughout our industry, and is pleased with the flexibility offered in these proposed rules to airport operators in tailoring a SMS program to meet the unique needs of their airport. NATA will continue to work with the FAA and airport operators to ensure that the framework provided by the FAA continues to meet the needs of individual airports, while ensuring that the full benefits of a proactive SMS program are achieved. However, NATA is concerned with the possible effects on airport tenants such as FBO’s and maintenance facilities by extending Part 139 regulation to the non-movement area. NATA will be working with the FAA to ensure that these new rules do not impose excessive burdens on non-airport businesses.

The Airport SMS NPRM has been published in the Federal Register, available here, and will be open for public comment until January 5, 2011.

Staff Contact:  
Michael France
Director, Regulatory Affairs

View in PDF format.

For general press inquiries, contact Shannon Chambers at 703-298-1347 or

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for over 75 years. Representing nearly 2,300 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.