US Airways claims industry first as in-flight advances to level 4 SMS

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US Airways' in-flight group is poised to become the first in the industry to advance to a 'level 4' safety management system (SMS).

SMS involves identifying hazards, assessing the risks, and implementing controls to address those risks which cannot be eliminated.

The US Airways in-flight group "is preparing to exit level 3 SMS on 18 May and will be the first in-flight group in the industry to advance to level 4," says the carrier in its latest employee newsletter.

US Airways says its efforts also continue in the development of an FAA advanced qualification programme (AQP), "which will enhance recurrent training by increasing the use of scenario-based training".

Additionally, the in-flight group has begun implementing a new Long Onboard Delay (LOBD) programme.

As part of the US Department of Transportation's (DOT) Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections rule, published in late December 2009, carriers at medium and large hub airports must develop a contingency plan that allows for aircraft to return to the terminal if stranded on the airport surface for more than 3h after landing or leaving the gate.

"While the new DOT rules don't take effect until 29 April, operational departments, began implementing LOBD procedures on 1 April," says US Airways.

"Some of the measures [the in-flight group] has implemented include announcements every 15min to update customers and an abbreviated beverage service begins at the 90min mark of a delay. Biscoff cookies will also be provided."

Separately, US Airways reveals it is not pleased with the quality of regional partner Mesa Airlines' aircraft interiors, and has alerted the carrier.

"As part of our focus on appearance, this has been addressed with Mesa and a refurbishment programme that includes seat cushion and cover replacement as well as numerous other interior reconditioning/replacement items is under development," reveals US Airways.

Mesa is currently restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.