Vertical Aviation International Ready to Help Members Meet SMS Mandate

Vertical Aviation International Ready to Help Members Meet SMS Mandate

Vertical Aviation International Ready to Help Members Meet SMS Mandate

In anticipation of the FAA's announcement made April 22 that companies conducting air tours, air-ambulance operations, charters, and commuter flights must implement a safety management system (SMS) program within 36 months of the effective date of the rule, Vertical Aviation International (VAI) has developed programs to make it as easy as possible for operator members to implement SMS.

The mandate, aimed at reducing accidents and enhancing safety, also applies to aircraft manufacturers, ensuring a comprehensive approach to aviation safety. The rule requires that applicable operators and manufacturers implement “a structured, repeatable, systematic approach to proactively identify hazards and manage safety risk.”

VAI's programs remain in place to assist all affected operator members with developing and implementing SMS programs.

The FAA is applying 14 CFR Part 5 to all Part 135 operators and air-tour operators with a letter of agreement (LOA) issued under 14 CFR 91.147. However, in situations where a single pilot is the sole person responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft, the rule will not apply.

Under the SMS final rule, operators have three years to submit a declaration of compliance. The FAA will require new Part 91.147 and Part 135 operators, including any potential advanced air-mobility operators, to submit a statement of SMS compliance as part of the certification process.

Additionally, the FAA stated that current aircraft manufacturers (Part 21 certificate holders) be required to develop and submit an implementation plan within six months of the final rule effective date and 36 months from the effective date to implement their SMS.

In comments provided by VAI during the rulemaking process, the association voiced support for the rule as long as the requirements were clearly laid out and operators were given sufficient time to implement their SMS programs.

“We have long supported the use of SMS programs as a means of improving safety throughout our industry,” says James Viola, VAI president and CEO. “The FAA has not been alone in promoting SMS as a required safety program. The National Transportation Safety Board routinely included SMS in its list of most wanted improvements in transportation safety. Globally, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has recommended SMS mandates since 1997.”

Congress first ordered SMS for aircraft manufacturers in 2020. “This helped to make us aware of the potential for inclusion of Part 91 and Part 135 operators in the mandate,” says Chris Hill, VAI senior director of safety. “Consequently, VAI began planning for the requirement quite some time ago. We started working with industry partners to provide our members with scalable SMS programs, coaching and assessment tools, and training at substantial discounts. In some cases, the discounts on the programs will even cover the cost of VAI membership.”

As part of its extensive library of safety resources, VAI provides members with a variety of options for SMS compliance that companies can select based on their operational needs, including near-turnkey programs by four SMS industry leaders:

  • The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ASCF) offers a simple yet customizable SMS for very small to large flight departments, fixed bases of operations (FBOs), and maintenance and repair organizations (MROs)
  • The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) provides SMS software and training solutions exclusively for MROs
  • Baldwin Safety & Compliance offers the Baldwin SMS Product Suite, which includes options for small, medium-sized, and large businesses
  • WYVERN Ltd. provides SMS software, a fast-start assessment, ongoing coaching, and upgrade options for small to large organizations.

Visit to learn more about these solutions for assessing, tracking and resolving safety threats and for verifying compliance with regulations and best practices.

“This new mandate may be concerning to operators who have yet to implement an SMS,” adds Viola. “VAI is here to help our members navigate the evolving regulatory landscape, and we will soon provide them with additional information on how to achieve compliance with this rule. And members should contact me at at any time if you need help with SMS implementation or other regulatory issues.”