Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is one of the busiest in the world, acting as a mid-Western hub from Illinois for continental and international travel. Although regulations developed by the FAA in 2015 update safety protocols for commercial passenger carriers, some feel these regulations fail to adequately address such issues in other revenue-generating passenger flights.
As a result, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a new set of guidelines. These are meant to close this gap in safety procedures in that category of flights. The goal is to reduce the number of accidents and incidents and improve the safety for flight crews and passengers on all revenue-based air travel.
The focus and purpose of the SMS air travel safety proposal
The Safety and Management System (SMS) is a formal safety requirement that is now standard in all commercial flights. The idea is to make passenger safety a priority from the top down and codify commercial aviation safety standards.
The system places focus in four areas of passenger safety:
- Safety policy
- Safety risk management
- Safety assurance
- Safety promotion
The system is designed to be scalable according to the needs of various aviation organizations. However, these standard were only voluntary for non-commercial revenue passenger-carrying flights.
That is, until now.
How these guidelines improve safety for passengers and crew
Until recently, only 30 of nearly 2,000 organizations were authorized to conduct Part 135 operations under SMS standards approved by the FAA. An additional 165 have applied for authorization.
Considering the number of daily flights from Illinois alone, that number is far to low.
The new proposals would require all commercial or revenue passenger flights, including air tours, to implement the same SMS standard regardless of their internal operating rules. It would also require uniform compliance regarding flight data recording devices and data monitoring to identify and report deviations from norms and standards.
In addition, the proposed updates call for implementing an SMS program that includes a comprehensive risk management protocol and encourages participation in the SMS program.
Creating a culture that promotes these proposals as the default mindset rather than a voluntary measure would also help improve passenger safety.