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Safety Management Systems

What is SMS?

A safety management system, or an SMS, is a set of processes intended to improve the way that a business manages safety. The SMS typically starts with high level safety policies from upper management, which are intended to reflect management’s commitment to safety. The safety policy is typically supplemented with safety goals that are related to the policy and are set by management in order to highlight the safety achievement expectations. These will often be tracked using metrics that reveal the safety achievement of the business, and that allow management to control and improve safety.

PMA manufacturers have a responsibility to assure that safety is the top priority in their operations. Safety has been described by the FAA as "aviation's 'North Star' that guides all else". An SMS program provides a proactive decision-making process for identifying hazards and mitigating risk.

The FAA Aircraft Certification Service (AIR) launched a Part 21/Safety Management System (SMS) Rulemaking Project in September 2014, led by the Policy and Innovation Division's System Performance and Development Branch (AIR-6E0), who worked with industry to create a Voluntary SMS Program (VSMS). AIR’s VSMS Program is available to any design and production approval holder organization interested in developing an FAA-accepted SMS.

MARPA has published several articles about adopting a voluntary SMS program, which are available below:

Several presentations regarding adoption of a voluntary SMS program have been delivered at previous MARPA events:

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