FAA Moves Ahead With Internal Airport SMS Program

Last week, FAA’s internal safety management system requirements—described in FAA Order 5200.11, FAA Airports (ARP) Safety Management Systems, “went live,” at least for large hub airports. However, due to limited funding to the FAA, the internal SMS will only apply to large hubs at this time.

ACI-NA is very concerned that the FAA has implemented Order 5200.11 prior to sufficiently defining its internal guidance, properly training its field staff in how to conduct safety risk assessments, and coordinating the procedures with airport operators. Furthermore, while the FAA committed to providing guidance by Feb. 1, it still has not provided the information to airport operators.

Order 5200.11 “provides the basis for implementing SMS” and “describes the roles and responsibilities” of the FAA staff. The policies, procedures, and requirements contained within the order are separate and distinct from the external airport SMS requirements that FAA issued last October. However, both the internal and external requirements rely on similar principles and definitions.

The order requires FAA Office of Airports staff to conduct safety risk assessments of a variety of airport planning and construction activities, including:

  • FAA review of new or revised Airport Layout Plans.
  • Construction project coordination, review, or approval for federally obligated airports, including Construction Safety and Phasing Plans.
  • Approval of Part 150 Noise Compatibility Program measures that could affect aviation safety (such as noise abatement departure procedures).
  • Approval of requests for project-specific modifications of standards
  • Non-construction changes, including runway and taxiway designations, airfield pavement marking and signage, runway categories, planned approach or departure procedure changes.

The order also requires the FAA to conduct assessments of new and updated airport planning, environmental, engineering, construction, operations, and maintenance standards published in advisory circulars.

The outcome of FAA-conducted assessments can have substantive consequences for airport improvement projects, including delaying their implementation until the assessments are completed or necessitating modifications to project designs and construction plans.

Contact ACI-NA’s Chris Oswald for more information.