Since its inception in 2002, the System Approach for Safety Oversight (SASO) Program Office has worked to develop and implement a comprehensive, integrated system safety approach to the oversight of all aviation entities. The Flight Standards’ (AFS) Safety Assurance System (SAS), currently under development by the SASO Program Office, is the combination of people, processes, and technology that will be AFS’s safety assurance capability.

This work has aligned with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices regarding implementing Safety Management Systems (SMS) for civil aviation authorities in its member states. As AFS prepares to implement the AFS SAS, it will be a step towards meeting a number of ICAO’s SMS standards and recommended practices.

Historical information from 2011 to 2014 is listed below:


Much like 2013, 2014 will be a very busy year for the SASO Program Office with deployment beginning as early as May. Initial deployment will be to four locations, known as "Key Sites". They include the St. Louis Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), Anchorage FSDO, San Antonio FSDO and the Delta Airlines Certificate Management Office (CMO).

The Change Management and Implementation (CMI) Strategic Plan is being implemented and includes a three-pronged approach:

  1. Finalizing the fourteen SAS training courses for both general and role-specific audiences,
  2. Implementing the SAS deployment plan, and
  3. Communicating about the transition to SAS


2013 is proving to be a very busy time in SAS implementation. Much work is being completed to finalize SAS policy, implement effective change management, as well as conduct various levels of automation testing. The below visual depicts the test strategy for SAS Automation:

Test Strategy for SAS Automation


The SASO Program Office partnered with the AFS Training Division (AFS-500) to initiate development of the following training courses:

  • Introduction to SAS
  • SAS for Inspectors and Field Office Management
  • SAS for Managers
  • SAS for Staff
  • SAS for Operations Research Analysts
  • SAS Train-the-Trainer
  • SAS External Portal for Certificate Holders and Applicants
  • Introduction to the SAS External Portal for AFS
  • SAS Analysis Assessment Action (AAA)
  • Data Collection Tool Fundamentals for SAS
  • SAS for Repair Stations Located Outside the U.S.

The SASO Program Office coordinated with the AFS Training Division (AFS-500) to solicit, select, and train SAS Transition and Readiness Team (START) members. START members have volunteered to be AFS field, regional and headquarters representatives. They serve as on-location SAS representatives for their peers during the transition to the SAS.

START members are formal change agents who pro-actively seek opportunities to share the value of the SAS initiative.

In 2012, the SASO Program Office continued development efforts and strategic planning for the 2013 testing and 2014-2015 implementation.


In 2011, the SASO Program Office focused on developing several change management communications and activities to educate and engage AFS employees and managers, and 14 CFR parts 121, 135, and 145 certificate holders on the transition to SAS.

To support SAS development work in 2011, the SASO Program Office coordinated with members of the AFS workforce to provide their technical expertise to write and review Data Collection Tools (DCTs) and Policy.

In addition, the SASO Program Office partnered with a team of system design/development specialists at the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) to work on the automation for the SAS to accompany new SAS business processes.

To assure that developmental efforts yield the desired results, an Executive Review Board (ERB) and Steering Committee were implemented. The ERB oversaw the entire initiative and the Steering Committee served as the governing body for decision-making. (The Steering committee included representation from all stakeholders.)

Complete SASO History (PDF)