SMS - Safety Management System

SMS: More than just three letters

Pilot and Flight Paramedics with Helicopter

In May 2013, we reached the highest level (Level 4) of the FAA’s voluntary Safety Management System (SMS) program. The SMS program is an organizational framework created and implemented by the FAA to systematically guide, track, and provide recognition for safety efforts by commercial air operators. Level 4, the continuous improvement stage, is the final phase of implementation. With this milestone, Air Methods joins the elite company of only seven other commercial air operators (including major U.S. airlines) in the nation to reach this final level, and currently is the only helicopter company and air medical provider to hold this distinction.

Air Methods’ SMS is a result of the voluntary 2006 FAA Advisory Circular 120-92 that encouraged commercial air operators to embrace a fully comprehensive SMS. The FAA SMS follows the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard as a quality management approach to controlling risk by providing the organizational framework to support a sound safety culture. It also provides the company’s management with a detailed roadmap for monitoring safety-related processes.

In 2009, Air Methods entered the FAA SMS voluntary implementation program, which is overseen and evaluated directly by the FAA. The intent of the “Level Status” is to allow aviation service providers to implement an SMS in a standardized manner and to allow recognition of each level of accomplishment. The “Level Status” is part of the SMS maturity model which includes five phases: Level 0: Orientation & Commitment; Level 1: Planning and Organization; Level 2: Reactive Processes; Level 3: Proactive Processes; and Level 4: Continuous Improvement.