The SMS promotes a defined structure and a “learning culture” within an aviation organization that continually seeks and analyzes information, then turns that information into action that eliminates or mitigates safety risks, before they become unwanted events.

SMS are organized around four basic building blocks or principles: policy, risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion.

  1. SMS recognize the potential for human error and other inherent unsafe conditions. They create robust design defenses to ensure that safety risks are managed and do not result in incidents or accidents. SMS programs establish open and free communication within an organization where employees have confidence that, while they will be held accountable for their actions, the organization will treat them fairly. An SMS sets the foundation for the practice of “organizational responsibility” for safety and encourages the identification of industry best practices and sharing of risk trends with other aviation service providers and the FAA.

  2. SMS are highly encouraged as proactive and collaborative relationships that greatly enhance organizational management effectiveness. An SMS is essentially a quality management approach to controlling risk. It also provides the organizational framework to support a sound safety culture. For general aviation operators, an SMS can form the core of the company’s safety efforts. For certificated operators such as airlines, air taxi operators, aviation training organizations, and repair stations, the SMS can also serve as an efficient means of interfacing with FAA certificate oversight offices. The SMS provides the company’s management with a detailed roadmap for monitoring safety‑related processes, and can increase productivity.

To meet the requirements of the aviation industry on a global level, SMS is an essential and critical part to your organizations risk management process.

Prior to applying for an air carrier certificate, to obtain more information or to receive a briefing on SMS, contact the Flight Standards Safety Management System (SMS) Program Office or the Air Carrier Certification and Evaluation Program Office.