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FAA Adjusts Airport Safety Rulemaking

An airliner at Portland International Airport - FAA Aims To Increase Airport Safety
Airliner at Portland International Airport

The FAA has just posted a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (or SNPRM) regarding safety management systems (or SMS) for airports. SMS is a structured method of managing the safety of an organization by focusing on four specific components: safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance and safety promotion. It’s the FAA’s aim, through used of SMS, to start bringing more proactive hazard identification and risk management principles into use during the standard, day to day airport operations, and increase overall airport safety.

The proposed supplement will adjust the number of airports across the nation that will be required to start integrating an SMS program. According to the new supplement, SMS will now be required at any Part 139 certificated airport that meets the following requirements:

The airport is classified as a small, medium or large hub airport, according to its listing in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems.


US Customs and Border Protection identifies the airport as a port of entry, designated international airport, user fee airport (an airport approved by Customs to use the services of a Customs officer to process the passengers and cargo of aircraft entering the US) or landing rights airport (any airport other than international or user fee airports at which Customs gives foreign flights permission to land).


The airport is identified as having more than 100,000 total operations annually, which would include take-offs and landings.

The Original NRPM Regarding Airport Safety

The original NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) required that all Part 139 airports participate in SMS, which would have been more than 500 airports. But, after reviewing input and comments from across the industry, the FAA has decided to amend the original proposal, instead focusing on the certificated airports across the nation that are handling the vast majority of passengers, operations, and international services. Approximately 260 airports will fall under the new SNPRM.

The full text of the SNPRM is being posted to the Federal Register, and there will be a 60 day period for commenting on the changes and other requirements found in the supplement. The comment period will end on September 12th, 2016. If you are interested in more information on SMS and how it relates to airport safety, you can check out the FAA Fact Sheet.

Featured Image: Daniel Betts

Anders Clark was introduced to aviation a few short years ago, and has developed an interest in aviation history and what the future of aviation will bring. A writer and editor, Anders enjoys researching and sharing the stories of aviation.