The National Academies

ACRP 04-33 [Pending]

Guide for Measuring Financial Benefits of Airport Safety Management Systems

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 18 Months
Staff Responsibility: Edward K. McDonald III


Airport sponsors are responsible for the safe operations of their airports. As the requirement for a safety management system (SMS) approaches, there is no quantitative data addressing the financial benefits and starting points in the implementation of an SMS. The lack of available information of financial benefits may create a reluctance to implement an SMS by airport sponsors. Addressing the scope of SMS financial benefits may enable sponsors to assess its financial capabilities to develop its SMS. Currently unknown variables to the industry include, but are not limited to

1.       What relevant data and activities are already being collected or performed?

2.       How to identify the cost benefits of SMS key performance indicators?

3.       How do airport sponsors prioritize its financial benefits and develop a successful SMS implementation?                     


The objective of this research is to develop a guide for airport sponsors to identify the financial benefits of the implementation of an SMS. The guide should include at a minimum the following:

  • A list of common categories of airport sponsors including, but not limited to:
    • Those that have (or do not have) an SMS in place, and
    • The number of enplanements and geographic locations,
  • A categorized list of incident types at airports,
  • A cost trend analysis before and after SMS implementation,
  • A comparative incident cost analysis between airport sponsors that have an SMS and airport sponsors that do not,
  • A list of SMS impacts and benefits,
  • An examination of airport SMS implementation from a phased approach, identifying:
    • What financial losses contribute to airports’ SMS implementation plans (e.g., ramp incidents, passenger slips/falls) and,
    • The most cost effective or financially beneficial implementation strategies,
  • Identification of a baseline of activities and elements of resources currently contributing to SMS, including the costs associated (e.g., SMS training investment),
  • Case studies examining the cost value of an incident or the loss that occurs to address:
    • Financial impacts of action or inaction,
    • Immediately recognizable substantial incidents at airports (e.g., loss time or money), and
    • If the incident was preventable. 


The research plan should include deliverables, for ACRP and panel review and approval, which include at a minimum, a data collection plan.

The research plan should also include checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.

The final deliverables will include: (1) a guide for airport sponsors to understand the financial benefits of the implementation of an SMS; (2) a research report that describes the background, research methodology, results, and recommendations of the project; and (3) (a) a Summary of Key Findings; (b) a Further Recommended Research Memo; and (c) a technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.

STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.


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