Safety Management Systems: The Perspective of Tennessee Airports


  • Amber L. Hulsey
  • Dr. C. Daniel Prather


Safety Management Systems (SMS), which is the proactive, formalized approach to managing risk and enhancing safety, is not yet mandatory within the aviation industry in the United States. Two pilot SMS studies were conducted at a handful of airports nationwide by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which examined the feasibility of implementing SMS
at airports. Although SMS is not yet mandatory in this country, many in the industry think it will become mandatory in the near future. This research investigates via a brief, online questionnaire with two additional follow-ups, data analysis, and aggregate reporting of data, the degree to which Tennessee airports support SMS adoption. The majority of Tennessee airports responding to the survey are not too familiar with SMS; currently have a proactive safety plan in place other than SMS; support a mandatory SMS for Part 139 airports; may consider implementing an SMS if it remains voluntary; would expect some resistance from airport employees, tenants, and users if implementing an SMS; and would anticipate needing additional funding to properly develop and implement an SMS.