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DOT/FAA RIN: 2120-AJ38 Publication ID: Fall 2016 
Title: Airport Safety Management System 

This rulemaking would require certain airport certificate holders to develop, implement, maintain, and adhere to a safety management system (SMS) for its aviation-related activities. An SMS is a formalized approach to managing safety by developing an organization-wide safety policy, developing formal methods of identifying hazards, analyzing and mitigating risk, developing methods for ensuring continuous safety improvement, and creating organization-wide safety promotion strategies.

Agency: Department of Transportation(DOT)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 14 CFR 139   
Legal Authority: 49 U.S.C. 44706    49 U.S.C. 106(g)    49 U.S.C. 40113    49 U.S.C. 44701 to 44706    49 U.S.C. 44709    49 U.S.C. 44719   
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Statutory  Final rule  11/05/2012 

Statement of Need:

In the NPRM published on October 7, 2010, the FAA proposed to require all part 139 certificate holders to develop and implement an SMS to improve the safety of their aviation-related activities. The FAA received 65 comment documents from a variety of commenters. Because of the complexity of the issues and concerns raised by the commenters, the FAA began to reevaluate whether deployment of SMS at all certificated airports was the most effective approach. The FAA continues to believe that an SMS can address potential safety gaps that are not completely eliminated through effective FAA regulations and technical operating standards. While the comments generated some changes to the proposal in this document, most of the proposed core elements of the SMS program remain in the SNPRM. The FAA now proposes to require an SMS be developed, implemented, maintained, and adhered to at any certificated airport that is: (i) classified as a Small, Medium, or Large hub airport in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems; (ii) identified by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection as a port-of-entry, designated international airport, landing rights airport, or user fee airport; or (iii) identified as having more than 100,000 total annual operations (according to best available data).

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. The FAA is proposing this rulemaking under the authority described in subtitle VII, part A, subpart III, section 44706, "Airport operating certificates." Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with issuing airport operating certificates (AOC) that contain terms that the Administrator finds necessary to ensure safety in air transportation. This proposed rule is within the scope of that authority because it requires certain certificated airports to develop and maintain an SMS. The development and implementation of an SMS ensures safety in air transportation by assisting these airports in proactively identifying and mitigating safety hazards.


The FAA explored various alternatives to determine how to apply an SMS requirement to a group of airports that gains the most benefit in a cost-effective manner. The FAA focused on airports with the highest passenger enplanements and largest total operations so that safety benefits would flow to the overwhelming majority of aircraft operations in the United States. The FAA also focused on incorporating airports with international passenger operations to ensure conformity with international standards and recommended practices. To that end, the FAA developed the following alternatives for additional analysis: (i) all part 139 airports (as originally proposed); (ii) airport operators holding a Class I airport operating certificate; (iii) certificated international airports regardless of certificate class; (iv) Large, Medium, and Small hub airports (as identified in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems) and certificated airports with more than 100,000 total annual operations; and (v) Large, Medium, and Small hub airports, certificated airports with more than 100,000 total annual operations, and certificated international airports.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

Benefits are estimated at $370,788,457 ($225,850,869 present value) and total costs are estimated at $238,865,692 ($157,496,312 present value), with benefits exceeding costs. These are preliminary estimates subject to change based on further review and analysis.


An SMS is a formalized approach to managing safety by developing an organization-wide safety policy, developing formal methods of identifying hazards, analyzing and mitigating risk, developing methods for ensuring continuous safety improvement, and creating organization-wide safety promotion strategies. An SMS provides an organization's management with a set of decisionmaking tools that can be used to plan, organize, direct, and control its business activities in a manner that enhances safety and ensures compliance with regulatory standards. Adherence to standard operating procedures, proactive identification and mitigation of hazards and risks, and effective communications are crucial to continued operational safety. The FAA envisions an SMS would provide an airport with an added layer of safety to help reduce the number of near-misses, incidents, and accidents. An SMS also would ensure that all levels of airport management understand safety implications of airfield operations.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  10/07/2010  75 FR 62008   
NPRM Comment Period Extended  12/10/2010  75 FR 76928   
NPRM Comment Period End  01/05/2011 
End of Extended Comment Period  03/07/2011 
Second Extension of Comment Period  03/07/2011  76 FR 12300   
End of Second Extended Comment Period   07/05/2011 
Second NPRM  07/14/2016  81 FR 45871   
Second NPRM Comment Period End  09/12/2016 
Analyzing Comments  12/00/2016 
Additional Information: The estimated costs of this rule do not include the costs of mitigations that operators could incur as a result of conducting the risk analysis proposed in this rule. Given the range of mitigation actions possible, it is difficult to provide a quantitative estimate of both the costs and benefits of such mitigations. However, we anticipate that operators will only implement mitigations where benefits exceeded costs. As such, the FAA believes that the costs of this rule would be justified by the anticipated benefits of the rule, if adopted as proposed.
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: State 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Information URL:   Public Comment URL:  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Related RINs: Related to 2120-AJ15 
Agency Contact:
Keri Lyons
Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW,
Washington, DC 20591
Phone:202 267-8972