Safety Assurance System (SAS)

What is SAS?

In 2016, the Safety Assurance System (SAS) was rolled out to create a standardized risk-based, data-supported oversight system across Flight Standards Service (FS), Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (AXH), and other Aviation Safety (AVS) Offices. SAS is the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) oversight tool to perform certification, surveillance, and Continued Operational Safety (COS). SAS includes policy, processes, and associated software that FS, AXH, and other AVS Offices use to capture data when conducting oversight. SAS is not a separate safety standard and does not impose additional requirements on Certificate Holders. SAS helps accomplish the following objectives:

  • Standardizes the work being accomplished across FS and AXH
  • Improves consistency and collaboration between FAA and industry
  • Helps FAA aviation safety inspectors (ASIs) determine risk-based, data-supported oversight decisions
  • Provides the standardized protocols to evaluate whether Certificate Holder operations are in compliance with regulations
  • Assists with reducing risk and increasing aviation safety

Additional Information about SAS

The SAS policy and procedure provide ASIs with standardized protocols to evaluate Certificate Holder programs required by regulations to be approved or accepted. It scales and tailors oversight to the size and complexity of Certificate Holders. SAS implements FAA policy by providing safety controls (i.e., regulations and their application) of business organizations and individuals that fall under FAA regulations.

SAS was developed to:

  • Support the evolution of a system safety approach to a single oversight system
  • Build connections between what is in policy, why it is done, and how automation continues to evolve
  • Allow for the use of consistent, risk-based, and data-supported approaches
  • Provide tools for collecting, recording, and analyzing data
  • Allow inspectors to be more effective in their role so they can focus their work on the highest area of risk

SAS is being developed and implemented in Phases over time. It is broken down as such because of the scope and size of this initiative. There are over 8,800 operating certificates managed in SAS. In addition, there are other 14 CFR parts for which the work is documented in SAS.

The evolution of SAS began in 2006 with programming and development. Phase 2 began in 2010 and included the implementation of 14 CFR parts 121, 135, and 145 for certification and surveillance. Phase 3 began in 2016 and involved the implementation of 14 CFR parts 141, 142, and 147. This phase also introduced some new functionality, including Risk Profile and Activity Recording. Phase 4 began in 2022 and continues integration with other lines of business and business areas; for example, the Foreign Air Carriers (FAC), Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and the Aircraft Evaluation Division (AED). Phase 5 is slated to begin in 2027 and is focused on Operational Support.

As SAS continues to evolve and improve, additional enhancements will be implemented to meet the ever-evolving needs of the FAA mission.

SAS Phased Development Approach

SAS and System Safety

The goal of system safety is to optimize safety by the identification of hazards within an environment and to eliminate or control their associated risk. FAA does this by performing Design Assessments (DA) and Performance Assessments (PA) based on system safety principles. Certificate Holders fulfill their responsibilities by designing operations systems that manage hazard-related risks and by providing service with the highest degree of safety in the public interest. These concepts are fundamental to SAS. SAS is based on system safety principles, safety attributes, and risk management process (RMP).

SAS fulfills the goals of system safety to:

  • Optimize safety by identifying safety-related risks
  • Eliminate or control risks through design and/or performance oversight
Last updated: Friday, December 1, 2023