Air Charter Safety Foundation Calls For SMS Adoption

Bombardier Challenger 604

A Bombardier Challenger 604 like the one shown here crashed on I-75 in southwest Florida after the pilots radioed that they had lost both engines.

Credit: Bombardier

The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) has called for “rapid adoption” of safety management tools by Parts 91 and 135 operators following a spate of recent crashes involving business aircraft.

Saying the need “has never been more urgent,” the nonprofit safety organization announced on Feb. 12 that all Part 91 private, 91K fractional ownership and Part 135 charter operators should implement safety management systems (SMS), participate in standardized auditing programs, and collect and share safety data.

The ACSF’s call referenced three recent business aviation accidents that resulted in 10 fatalities.

  • On Feb. 9, a Eurocopter EC130 operated by Orbic Air crashed near Halloran Springs, California, during conditions that witnesses described as a “wintery mix,” according to an Aviation Safety Network summary. Six occupants were killed, including the CEO of one of Nigeria’s largest banks, his wife and son.
  • On Feb. 9, a Bombardier Challenger 604 operated by Hop-A-Jet crashed on Interstate 75 while on approach to Naples Airport, Florida, after the pilots radioed they had lost both engines. The two pilots were killed; a crewmember and two passengers survived.
  • On Feb. 7, a Hawker 900XP operated by Vici Aviation crashed into terrain near Loma, Colorado, killing the two pilots, who were the only occupants on board.

“This is a stark reminder of the high-risk environment we operate in every day, and we send our sincerest condolences to the families affected,” said ACSF President and CEO Bryan Burns and Executive Director Debi Carpenter.

The FAA is promulgating a new regulation that will update and expand its Part 5 requirement for SMS implementation beyond airlines, to include Part 135 charter operators and Part 91.147 air tour operators. While it is expected the agency will issue a final rule this summer, the regulation will allow operators a number of years to comply.

The NTSB has recommended SMS programs be required of Part 135 charter operators and all Part 91 revenue passenger-carrying operations.

“ACSF calls upon all stakeholders—including operators, passengers, insurers, and industry organizations—to play an active role in advocating for the adoption of safety tools across all operation types and sizes,” the foundation said. “At a minimum, ACSF urges the implementation of a working SMS tailored to each operation’s unique environment.”

Bill Carey

Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.