Air Methods Corporation (Nasdaq:AIRM) recently was informed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it successfully exited Level 1 Safety Management System (SMS) status and is currently working toward achieving Level 2 SMS status. Air Methods believes it is currently the only helicopter air medical operator to participate in the FAA’s SMS voluntary implementation program, and one of only six commercial air operators (including Part 121 major commercial U.S. airlines) in the nation to earn an SMS status acknowledgement letter. To date, there are 68 commercial air operators nationwide enrolled in the FAA SMS program.
“Air Methods is extremely proud to have successfully earned this status and to pioneer the FAA’s SMS program in the air medical industry,” stated Paul Tate, Chief Operating Officer. “This is a unique acknowledgement from the FAA that Air Methods possesses many of the systems and programs critical in a successful SMS. While this is a defining moment for us and the industry, we will not rest on our laurels and continue to work diligently to pursue the highest SMS level.”
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 2008, 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.
In 2009, Air Methods established several FAA voluntary safety programs and SMS initiatives including an Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) and Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA) program. Each of these allows for greater communications from its field operations and earlier identification of areas of concerns so resources and attention can be devoted on a proactive basis.
Air Methods Corporation (www.airmethods.com) is a leader in emergency air medical transportation and medical services. The Hospital-Based Services Division is the largest provider of air medical transport services for hospitals. The Community-Based Services Division is the largest community-based provider of air medical services. The Products Division specializes in the design and manufacture of aeromedical and aerospace technology. The Company’s fleet of owned, leased or maintained aircraft features over 300 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.
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