FAA validation for Clay Lacy Aviation’s SMS programme


Clay Lacy Aviation’s organisation-wide approach has been validated and recognised by the FAA to meet the new standards of the FAA Safety Management System Voluntary Program (SMSVP).

The validation places Clay Lacy in the top 2% of Part 135 operators in the USA that have completed this process and developed a culture of safety promotion. The FAA SMSVP attests that the company’s Safety Management System (SMS) also meets the ICAO requirements.

“Clay Lacy has a commitment and priority to safety, continuous improvement and enhancing our safety culture to be proactive and predictive to address problems before they occur,” said David Lamb, chief operating officer. “We are going above and beyond what the FAA is requiring because we recognise the importance and benefits of having a holistic, organisational approach to safety operations.”

David Lamb, COO, Clay Lacy

Clay Lacy’s SMS touches all components of operations, including aircraft management and maintenance, charter operations and its fixed-based operator (FBO) services. Its team began work to expand existing SMS to the FAA SMSVP standards about two years ago, engaging with the FAA throughout to share knowledge and implement better systems. The SMS implementation is part of Clay Lacy’s Continuous Improvement Program (CIP) where the company fosters company-wide contribution and a systematic review and implementation process to benefit both external and internal stakeholders.

The FAA SMSVP consists of four safety components: policy, risk management, assurance and promotion. The company has aligned its processes, communications and risk assessments to meet and exceed all components. The SMS implementation mandate gives operators 24 months to meet the requirements Clay Lacy has already exceeded.

The presentation of the certificate from the FAA

One practical example of the new SMS was in identifying and assessing a potential hazard on thermal runaway events for batteries during flight. Clay Lacy aircraft are now equipped with thermal runaway bags and flight crews have been trained in case of this rare incident. Outside of equipment and materials, Clay Lacy has instituted a risk assessment and management process throughout its operations, including within accounting and computer systems. It has developed a standard operating procedure at every level.

“We know that this is something that’s more important than checking a box,” Lamb said. “Our culture is one of leadership and doing the right thing on a daily basis. While this is an important milestone, we know that our work to improve is never completed.”

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Izzy has been part of the Business Jet Interiors International team since its second issue, and the editor since 2011. She also edits Auditoria and Railway Interiors International. Outside of work, Izzy is rediscovering her love of art by learning how to paint with watercolors.

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