El Aero Services Becomes First HAI SMS Program User

 - January 27, 2022, 12:28 PM

Northern Nevada-based helicopter operator El Aero Service has become the first Helicopter Association International (HAI) member to join the organization’s safety management system (SMS) program. 

HAI unveiled the program in October to help small operators and others with cost concerns adopt SMS. The association said the program was a “direct result” of a survey that revealed a number of members were looking for support to make SMS easier to implement and track.

SMS has been at the forefront since the FAA announced plans to issue a rule to require commercial operators to incorporate such programs. In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board has called for SMS programs in commercial passenger-carrying operations, including the issue as part of its “Most Wanted” list.

“We were very interested when HAI announced they had sponsored the creation of these new SMS programs,” said Jairus Duncan, director of operations at El Aero Services. “We’d been looking at options for upgrading our dated SMS program to something that was based more in the digital world, with easy access to report generation of received data and simpler for pilots to utilize, with the bonus of being compliant with new government contracting requirements.”

HAI has partnered with three well-established SMS software providers—Baldwin Safety & Compliance, Wyvern, and the Air Charter Safety Foundation—to offer the program.

The program provides various service packages and capabilities that can scale to an operator’s needs. Each package enables users to verify their compliance with current and future domestic and international regulations, HAI said.

“One of the most exciting elements of the HAI SMS program is how quickly and efficiently it helps improve safety across operations,” said HAI president and CEO James Viola. “We are pleased to offer this solution, which has the versatility to meet the needs of nearly every operator that currently does not have their own program.”

El Aero Services opted for a Baldwin service and implemented its SMS program on January 1, Duncan said, adding the company is “currently in the process of customizing the various elements of the program to match our operations and needs perfectly.”

In business for more than 50 years, El Aero Services operates two Bell 206L-4s, a Bell 206B-3, and three fixed-wing aircraft. The company maintains bases in Elko and Carson City, providing services to all of Nevada, five other Western states, and occasionally into the Midwest. Its services range from support of the National Wild Horse and Burro Program in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Oregon, to support of aerial capture, eradication, and tagging of animals work, land restoration in the wake of fires, and search-and-rescue efforts.