SMS Certification Ensures a Culture of Safety

ThinkstockPhotos-82632575In February 2015, Gulfstream’s Aerospace Corporation became one of the first original equipment manufacturers to earn International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) Stage 2 certification. The voluntary, but arduous, process was developed by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and its members associations such as the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) as a standard code of best practices designed to enhance flight department safety. At the core of the certification is a scalable Safety Management System (SMS) tool for business aircraft operators.

While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet issued SMS regulations to U.S. registered flight operators, some civil aviation authorities in other countries are in the process of developing their own SMS regulation mandates. It is still unclear whether the FAA will require IS-BAO and SMS certification for U.S. flight operators, and it is further unclear whether flight operators currently exempt from the certification requirements in the U.S. will need to meet certification requirements while operating in SMS-required countries.

Dan Nale, Senior Vice President of Programs, Engineering, and Test with Gulfstream, clearly felt the voluntary certification would validate the safety management processes for the company. The certification was achieved prior to the start of two flight test programs for the all-new Gulfstream G500 and G600.

The certification arms the organization with:

  • A structured decision-making process
  • Improved risk controls and safety assurance processes
  • A framework to promote safety culture

But the primary purpose behind an SMS certification is to identify and manage flight risks before accidents occur. Gulfstream Flight Operations Test had to work with IBAC auditors to implement IS-BAO protocols into their operational practices to effectively evaluate their flight test procedures.

Flight tests inherently involve flights that are significantly different from the standard business aircraft operator; experimental test flights are designed to demonstrate that design goals have been met and to earn type-certification from government entities. The IBAC auditors evaluated Gulfstream’s operating, scheduling, and dispatch processes and how those coordinate with the company’s production and service facilities — more than 16 worldwide!

If you, or your organization, are interested in learning more about the certification process, the NBAA website’s Safety Management System (SMS) information is a great place to start. The best way to stop accidents is to ensure they don’t happen, and SMS certifications can help you develop organizational processes that keep aircraft operations safe.

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