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 2015 is listed below:


The SASO PO is prepared for a challenging year as we continue to conduct the SAS Phase II A deployment. Flight Standards will complete the full deployment of SAS (Phase II A) for CFR parts 121, 135, and 145 with a projected timeline of December 2015. A total of 100 field offices will deploy SAS with 183 training sessions scheduled at those offices. Over 6,800 certificates will transition to SAS by the end of 2015.

Our commitment to SAS will continue during and after the site deployments. The SASO PO will collect comments and concerns from AFS members that have already deployed in SAS. This feedback helps determine if SAS processes are working effectively plus identifies opportunities for continuous improvement. New and updated SAS training will ensure the needs of Flight Standards Service are met to sustain SAS into the future. Additionally, SAS Phase II B planning will continue to develop the future Flight Standards (AFS) Oversight System (FSOS). FSOS is planning to include other applicable CFR parts, and the four components of the AFS internal Safety Management System (SMS).


Several key events in 2014 led to exceptional progress for the SAS deployment. Extensive testing of the SAS automation and validation of training courses occurred in the first half of 2014. Major milestones included:

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) - The UAT provided verification that the SAS automation fully aligned with SAS policy and would meet the needs of SAS users in the field.

SAS for Inspectors and Field Office Management Course, Training Prototypes - These prototypes conducted at the FAA Academy provided valuable feedback for training developers and SAS subject matter experts to finalize the on-site, instructor led course that all AFS members attend during their SAS transition.

Data Collection Tools (DCT) Fundamentals for SAS course - The SASO PO developed this web-based training course to provide an understanding of the DCTs in SAS. The DCT Fundamentals course joined the Introduction to SAS web-based training course as the two pre-requisite courses to prepare AFS personnel for the on-site SAS training.

The SAS Resource Guide (SRG) - The SASO PO launched this web-based information portal to provide a central repository of SAS information for all AFS employees. The SRG contains comprehensive information about SAS, including: role-specific responsibilities, pre-deployment checklists, training course descriptions, policy and automation documents, and links to a wealth of other helpful SAS resources. The tool supports AFS employees prior to and throughout their transition to SAS, with the objective of answering their most common SAS-related questions.

These were four of many pivotal events that facilitated the SAS deployment delivery in June. The SAS deployment began at the first of three Key Sites, the Delta CMO in Atlanta, GA. The St. Louis FSDO and San Antonio FSDO Key Sites were next up and deployed SAS in July. The Key Sites verified the SAS software met the requirements of field operating environments plus provided valuable feedback for SAS training and implementation strategies. The SASO PO used the information gathered from the Key Sites to better prepare and conduct the full deployment of SAS.
The full deployment of SAS began in September at the Kansas City FSDO and Orlando CMO. By the end of CY 2014, SAS training teams conducted 46 training sessions at 21 sites. A total of 973 certificates transitioned to SAS by the end of 2014.


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)