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  • Writer's pictureTodd Thomas

Why Does Your SMS Need An Accountable Executive?

Updated: Feb 20

The Accountable Executive (AE) is a key figure in a Safety Management System (SMS), responsible for overseeing the system's design, implementation, and effectiveness.

The AE’s role is to ensure that the organization's SMS is effectively managing risks and ensuring the safety of employees, customers, and the public.

When choosing the AE for your SMS, there are a few key factors that you should consider.

  1. Experience: The AE should have relevant experience in safety management, preferably in the same industry as your organization. They should have a good understanding of safety regulations, standards, and best practices.

  2. Authority: The AE should have the authority to make decisions and allocate resources to ensure the SMS is effective. They should have the support of senior management and be able to influence your organization's safety culture.

  3. Communication skills: The AE should have excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. They should be able to explain complex safety concepts in a way that is easily understood by everyone in the organization.

  4. Leadership: The AE should be a strong leader, with the ability to inspire and motivate others to take safety seriously. They should be able to set a positive example and foster a culture of safety within the organization.

  5. Accountability: The AE should be willing to take responsibility for the effectiveness of the SMS. They should be accountable to senior management, stakeholders, and regulatory authorities.

Once your organization has identified a candidate who meets these criteria, you should ensure that the individual is properly trained and supported in their role as the AE. This may include providing access to relevant training, mentoring, and coaching, as well as allocating resources to support the SMS.

With the NPRM wrapping up its comment submission period we can expect a new Safety Management System rule pending for the Part 135 operators, certain Part 21 TC and PC holders and Part 91.147 air tour operators. If your operation is in one of those categories, it’s time to designate your Accountable Executive (AE).

As always, Baldwin is here to assist you with any questions you have as you go through the process of identifying your Accountable Executive.


Additional Federal Aviation Regulations resources:

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 14 CFR Part 5.25.a states:

Designation of the accountable executive. The certificate holder must identify an accountable executive who, irrespective of other functions, satisfies the following: (1) Is the final authority over operations authorized to be conducted under the certificate holder's certificate(s). (2) Controls the financial resources required for the operations to be conducted under the certificate holder's certificate(s). (3) Controls the human resources required for the operations authorized to be conducted under the certificate holder's certificate(s). (4) Retains ultimate responsibility for the safety performance of the operations conducted under the certificate holder's certificate.

14 CFR Part 5.25.b states:

Responsibilities of the accountable executive. The accountable executive must accomplish the following:

(1) Ensure that the SMS is properly implemented and performing in all areas of the certificate holder's organization. (2) Develop and sign the safety policy of the certificate holder. (3) Communicate the safety policy throughout the certificate holder's organization. (4) Regularly review the certificate holder's safety policy to ensure it remains relevant and appropriate to the certificate holder. (5) Regularly review the safety performance of the certificate holder's organization and direct actions necessary to address substandard safety performance in accordance with § 5.75.

14 CFR Part 5.25.c states: Designation of management personnel. The accountable executive must designate sufficient management personnel who, on behalf of the accountable executive, are responsible for the following: (1) Coordinate implementation, maintenance, and integration of the SMS throughout the certificate holder's organization. (2) Facilitate hazard identification and safety risk analysis. (3) Monitor the effectiveness of safety risk controls. (4) Ensure safety promotion throughout the certificate holder's organization as required in subpart E of this part. (5) Regularly report to the accountable executive on the performance of the SMS and on any need for improvement.


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