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FAA Administrator urges professionalism, use of SMS

Randy Babbitt, the FAA Administrator, stressed more cockpit professionalism in the drive for more safety and fewer accidents at US airlines.  In a speech to the International Safety Forum today, Mr. Babbitt stated that the difference between the outcomes of the US Airways Flight 1549 and Colgan Flight 3407 was one of  “textbook greatness, the other a complete inattention to basic details.”

The Administrator was referring to the contrast between the two flights.  The January 15th US Airways flight, which an Airbus 320 was struck by Canada geese after departure from New York’s Laguardia airport and was followed by a successful ditching in the Hudson river.  The other was the February 13th fatal crash of a Colgan DeHavilland Q400 in Buffalo, NY, in which pilot error was largely believed to be the cause.

Babbitt indicated that in addition to a more professional culture, the airlines should better utilize tools and concepts like the Safety Management System (SMS), a set of guidelines and risk management processes designed to increase the safety decision making process. Last month the FAA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) concerning the SMS for the airline industry and other aviation operators to adopt.

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