US Airways Becomes One Of The First To Implement Safety Program


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US Airways Becomes One Of The First To Implement Safety Program

By Daniel Baxter

February 6, 2011 - US Airways' commitment to safety was reaffirmed this week with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) validation of its fully functioning Safety Management System (SMS). It is one of the first U.S. airlines to receive the FAA's validation of its company-wide implementation of this voluntary safety enhancement program.  

Dr. Don Arendt, manager of the FAA's Flight Standards Program Office, said "In system safety, it's the system owner, the organization whose employees and customers are directly exposed to safety risks that must take responsibility for managing those risks.  

Carriers that have chosen to implement SMS voluntarily are the early adopters of proactive risk management. This group of early adopters sees SMS as a means of enhancing their risk decision making.

Companies that invest in SMS voluntarily are not only leading their organizations but others in their industry as well. The FAA validation follows the advancement of the airline's Airport Operations and Technical Operations (maintenance) departments to the highest level (Level Four) of the SMS program. Level Four is the final stage of SMS implementation where all SMS processes are in place. US Airways' Flight Operations (pilots), InFlight (flight attendants) and Operations Control (dispatchers) departments already have achieved Level Four status.  

The SMS program enhances flying safety for the public, and occupational safety for employees, by moving from the kind of traditional reactive approach to known risks and hazards to a more predictive approach. SMS seeks to identify existing and potential risks long before any incident or accident occurs. To do that, US Airways has established systems and programs both on a company-wide basis and within each covered department to help identify and predict where future safety risks might develop, or where existing risks might grow worse.  

"Safety is our number one priority at US Airways and the FAA's validation of our SMS program is an important endorsement of this commitment," said Captain Paul Morell, US Airways' vice president, safety and regulatory compliance. "All 32,000 US Airways employees should be very proud of this accomplishment and I appreciate the hard work and dedication to running a safe airline that made achieving this important safety milestone possible."


US Airways led the U.S. industry in 2008 by being one of the first airlines to commit to implementing the FAA's voluntary SMS program. The company set a target of reaching full SMS implementation by September 2011, and reached that goal seven months ahead of schedule. While SMS currently is a voluntary program, the FAA is engaged in SMS rulemaking for part 121 carriers, a project mandated by recently enacted Public Law (P.L. 111-216) that would require all U.S. airlines to have fully functioning SMS programs.  

Morell added, "SMS is built on every department's previously existing safety program. But it seeks to manage safety from a consistent, inter-related, company-wide perspective instead of leaving it up to each department to manage safety independent from all other departments. I'm proud to say that US Airways is one of the first carriers to have all of our operating departments reach Level Four."

In addition to the SMS program, US Airways is a recognized leader in several other voluntary FAA safety programs, including the Advanced Qualification Program (AQP), the Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program, and the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP).

In fact, last week, US News & World Report ranked US Airways first among the major network carriers and third overall in airline safety. US Airways has also received high marks from the Department of Defense and the International Air Transport Association in their operational safety audits, both recognized as gold standards for safety excellence.

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