NATA Hosts FBOs, Charter Firms

Image, the economy, SMS, and Part 135 dominate discussion at annual meeting

Update on sms, Part 135
Don Arendt, manager of FAA’s Flight Standards SMS office, addressed the topic of safety management systems. Under international agreement, FAA is required to issue guidelines to industry on an SMS program that meets ICAO Annex 6 standards, as of January 1, 2009. He says FAA has “filed a difference” with the International Civil Aviation Organization to recognize that FAA and the U.S. system is currently not in compliance.

Arendt says that SMS “is not a substitute for compliance. Oversight will continue. It’s more an effective interface — not a replacement for system safety.

“It’s a set of decisionmaking practices. It’s all about decisionmaking.” Arendt adds that operators can expect that implementation will bring associated costs.

There are four pillars to SMS, says Arendt: policy; safety risk management; safety assurance; and, safety promotion. The focus needs to be on providing confidence that quality requirements are being met.

He also sees SMS as an opportunity for FAA and industry to work more closely on ensuring safety, reflecting a need for the two to have more interaction on the safety management front. That despite recent charges on Capitol Hill that the agency is “too cozy” with industry in its regulatory role. Asks Arendt, “Is anything ever enhanced by having a distant, adversarial relationship?”

An advance notice of proposed rulemaking is in the works at FAA and Arendt expects issuance later this year.

On the subject of Part 135 regulation, Dennis Pratte, manager at FAA’s Part 135 Air Carrier Operations Branch, reports that an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) studying the regulations has made some 167 recommendations to the agency. “We’ve got some IOUs” regarding follow-through, he says.

Pratte says that there are currently some 2,223 Part 135 air carriers in the U.S. and points out that nearly 50 percent of air carrier operations are actually carried out by Part 135s. He calls the Part 135 accident rate “troubling” when compared to Part 121, but says there has been a downward trend. “It’s getting there,” he says.

FAA also expects to launch in mid-July a new WebOps site for Part 135 compliance via the Internet. The agency is currently in the process of educating its Flight Standards District Offices nationwide on an implementation of the program.

TSA: A Secure Chain of Custody

During this year’s Air Charter Summit, Transportation Security Administration assistant administrator John P. Sammon updated attendees on the proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), which was met with an outpouring of objections by industry this spring.

Since that time, TSA has held two meetings with industry to explore options for securing general aviation aircraft, and was expected to host another in late June with reps from FlightSafety, Chambers of Commerce, and the Secret Service, according to Sammon.

The need, he says, is to maintain “a secure chain of custody” for an aircraft when it arrives at an airport. Just as TSA doesn’t want guns being brought onto an airfield through the fence or gates, it wants to ensure they don’t arrive by aircraft, either.

As a result of the industry reaction to the LASP proposal and with subsequent industry input, TSA continues to explore its options on what a future notice of proposed rulemaking would look like, explains Sammon.

Subsequent to this meeting, the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report questioning the need for heightened security regulations on general aviation aircraft.

MAC’s Schmidt Named 2009 Winner, NATA Airport Executive Partnership Award

Since 1995, the National Air Transportation Association has been recognizing airport executives who foster positive working relationships with their tenants. The award, which is sponsored by AIRPORT BUSINESS magazine, was given to Gary Schmidt, A.A.E., director of the reliever airport system for the Metropolitan Airports Commission of Minneapolis-St. Paul, during this year’s NATA annual meeting held outside Washington, D.C. in June.

Schmidt, 59, oversees six reliever airports which encircle the Twin Cities, part of a system operated by MAC. He has 35 years in the aviation sector; prior to entering airport management, he was one of the controllers later dismissed by President Reagan. Following reception of the award, Schmidt sat for an interview. Here are edited excerpts ...

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