Air tour operators will be required to improve their safety plans: Travel Weekly

Air tour operators will be required to improve their safety plans: Travel Weekly

Air tour operators will be required to improve their safety plans: Travel Weekly

The FAA has proposed a rule requiring air charterers and tour operators to develop comprehensive safety plans for their aircraft, including seaplanes, seaplanes and helicopters.

The rule would extend to these flight operators a requirement that has been in place for commercial airlines since 2018.

Specifically, the rule would require operators to develop Safety Management System (SMS) programs, which are a set of policies and procedures in which airlines identify, monitor and address operational issues before those issues arise. become serious.

SMS systems should have four components: security policies, security risk management, security assurance, and security promotion.

Additionally, the rule would require companies to document their system and maintain records produced as part of the system.

“Extending safety management systems to other players in the aviation industry will reduce accidents and incidents and save lives,” Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a remark. prepared. “As secure and efficient as our system is today, we must always strive to achieve the next level of security.”

As part of the new rule proposal, the FAA provided examples of fatal accidents that could have been avoided if SMS programs had been in place. In one example, the agency cited a seaplane tour operated by Alaska-based Promech Air in June 2015 from Ketchikan that crashed into a mountain, killing the pilot and eight Holland America Line passengers who were on an excursion.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the crash was caused by the pilot’s decision to continue visual flight in conditions that required flight instruments. Among the contributing factors identified by the NTSB were Promech’s lack of a formal safety program and a corporate culture that tacitly endorsed flying in hazardous weather conditions.

“Had the proposed rule been in effect during this time, the operator would have had requirements that could have prevented or mitigated an accident like this,” the FAA said.

Over the years, a number of other tour operators have had fatal accidents.

For example, another seaplane operating from Ketchikan and carrying Holland America Line passengers crashed in August 2021, killing the pilot and five cruise passengers.

In May 2019, three seaplane crashes occurred in Alaska, including one in which two planes collided, killing six Princess Cruises passengers who were on a tour.

The public can comment on the proposed rule until March 13.

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