The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Hazardous Materials Safety Program (HMSP) oversight responsibilities extend beyond the airport. We oversee entities that introduce dangerous goods into commerce through transportation by aircraft. Common regulated parties include, but are not limited to, manufacturers, freight forwarders, e-commerce, businesses, online retailers that sell dangerous goods, and aircraft repair and maintenance stations.
The regulatory environment is evolving. Today inspections or safety oversight activities are data-driven by emerging risks, violation history, and incident reporting data. The idea is to study and analyze system data, look for evolving trends, identify the emerging safety risk, and mitigate the risks before an accident occurs. This allows us to better prioritize our safety oversight activity and allocate resources based on risk. It is a more proactive approach to doing business from years past.
Put simply, the HMSP conducts safety oversight activity when we have identified a risk. A few common risk-based causes for carrying out an safety oversight activity may include that you shipped dangerous goods undeclared or improperly prepared dangerous goods, one of your packages was involved in an incident, you are shipping a high-risk commodity, your company has a history of violations, or we have observed a trend of industry noncompliance. We consider all of these to be high-risk scenarios. This overall risk-based approach is termed Risk Based Decision Making (RBDM). Adopting this approach means that the FAA will build on safety management system (SMS) principles to make safety oversight activity decisions based on safety risk and the nuances of the individual offeror's situation.
The Role and Authority of an FAA Hazardous Materials Aviation Safety Inspector (HMASI) is:
- To "protect the nation adequately against the risks to life and property which are inherent in the transportation of dangerous goods in commerce" [49 U.S.C. 5101-5128 (PDF)].
- Inspect companies that offer, accept, or transport dangerous goods by air.
- Oversee certificated air carriers and repair stations.
- Ensure compliance and enforcement of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), 49 CFR, Parts 100-185.
- Conduct stakeholder engagement and incident investigations.
- Increase passenger awareness to minimize accidents involving dangerous goods in checked and carry-on baggage.
- Authority comes from 49 CFR 107.305 (investigations) and §109.3 (inspections & investigations).