EXPLORING THE STATE OF SMS PRACTICES FOR COMMERCIAL UAS OPERATIONS AT AIRPORTS
Safety Management Systems (SMS) in the aviation industry is increasingly an essential aspect of identifying hazards and managing the associated risks. While SMS has become commonplace and is often a regulatory requirement for air carriers, it remains voluntary for many other aviation service providers such as airports. Over the past decade, commercial UAS operations have significantly increased, leading to safety and economic challenges for airports. This research studied the current state of SMS and commercial UAS operations at airports. This research utilized a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, which included an extensive literature review, interviews, and a survey of airport stakeholders. The literature review confirmed an increase in UAS hazards and risks within the airport operating area coupled with immature SMS practices that address these UAS operations. To build on the findings from the review of literature, a survey instrument was developed, distributed to airport stakeholders, and the responses were statistically analyzed. To gain greater insight into these findings, researchers interviewed three airport subject matter experts. The study compared the airports current state of SMS with UAS operations, the airport stakeholder’s level of familiarity with related policies, and their need for additional UAS SMS guidance material or training. Research results suggest a need for further development and adoption of robust SMS practices at airports along with education and training. This study may assist airport stakeholders, UAS operators, and regulators to further develop robust safety and risk management practices that support safe UAS operations within the airport operating area.
- Master of Science
- Aviation and Transportation Technology
- West Lafayette