The FAA ruling requiring all US airlines to have a safety management system (SMS) in place by 2018 had been long anticipated before its announcement earlier this month, but its implementation could lead to larger levels of data being shared by airlines.
Coming about after the February 2009 crash of Colgan Air flight 3407, which resulted in the death of 50 people, the ruling will see all US airlines and cargo carriers submit SMS plans within six months when the rule becomes effective in March, before implementing them within three years.
The FAA developed the rule by studying 123 accidents that occurred from 2001 to 2010, where it said many that occurred could have been prevented or pre-determined if the airlines involved had used an SMS.
By expanding SMS to every carrier, a move welcomed by Airlines for America(A4A), the FAA hopes it will result in more data being shared across the industry as airlines increase analysis of data collected from their daily operations to identify problems and predict accident causes.
Data sharing is certainly nothing new, as 96 per cent of carriers affected by the rule already gather and share data with the FAA or participate in voluntary SMS programmes.
While US commercial air travel has an excellent safety record, with the fatality risk decreasing by 83 per cent from 1998 to 2008, ambitious plans for a further 50 per cent reduction from 2010 to 2025 have also been confirmed by US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx.
Although this target is ambitious, its cause will certainly be helped if the increased sharing of data drives better decision making.
While the rule is projected to cost airlines $224m to implement over 10 years, safety of the fleets flying in our skies is priceless.