US regulator the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will require further airlines and aircraft manufacturers to implement a Safety Management System (SMS) as it expands rules it first introduced in 2018. 

A SMS is a structured set of policies meant to help proactively identify and manage hazards and safety risks which have been mandatory for all US airlines for six years. 

While some manufacturers have already implemented a SMS, the FAA will now expand requirements to include charter airlines, commuter airlines, air tour operators, and certain manufacturers. 

FAA administrator Mike Whitaker said: “Requiring more aviation organizations to implement a proactive approach to managing safety will prevent accidents and save lives.” 

The expansion of the rules comes four years after the US Government passed the Aircraft Certification, Safety and Accountability Act 2020 which told the regulator to expand SMS rules to cover aircraft manufacturers in the wake of the two fatal crashes involving a faulty piece of software on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. 

The incidents also led the FAA to change other aspects of aviation regulation including requiring a greater focus on flight control systems during aircraft certification after Boeing failed to disclose issues with the vehicle’s MCAS system. 

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The FAA’s new requirements go beyond the act’s directive to include other types of airline and have been welcomed by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has been calling for the regulator to expand the scope of SMS rules for years. 

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said: “Requiring more operators to implement proven strategies to protect the flying public is a positive step for safety, and one the NTSB has long supported. 

“I applaud FAA for today’s action, which will go a long way toward protecting flight crews and passengers in our skies. We look forward to working with FAA to address even more of our safety recommendations.” 

However, the NTSB also called on the FAA to take more action to “protect all passengers”, drawing attention to the six open recommendations it currently has regarding SMS including mandating ongoing oversight of each operator’s SMS after it has been established.