The FAA is advising U.S. Part 135 operators that they soon will need a "State recognized" (FAA) Safety Management System (SMS) to fly throughout Europe under Europe's Third Country Operators (TCO) regulation.
Part 135 operators based outside of Europe will be required to obtain a TCO authorization from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) by November 26, 2016 to operate in Europe. TCO authorization includes a requirement that the operator has a state-recognized SMS program, such as those recognized by the FAA.
The SMS requirements are based on ICAO standards under Annex 19 and are in line with EASA's risk-based considerations for TCO authorization. The FAA has said it does not accept third-party sponsored SMS programs (such as IS-BAO, although discussions have been ongoing between the FAA and IBAC), but does recognize its own SMS voluntary program. The document providing FAA guidance for SMS applicable to a U.S. Part 135 operator is found in AC 120-92B, "Safety Management Systems for Aviation Service Providers."
The SMS Voluntary Program (SMSVP) is available to Part 135 organizations and is accepted by the FAA. For more information, you should contact the AFS SMS Program Office:
Team Lead, SMS Program Office
On April 29, 2014, the EU published Commission Regulation No. 452/2014. This regulation sets forth requirements for Third Country Operators (TCO). EASA defines a third-party operator as any operator holding an air operator certificate issued by a third country. Under the new EASA regulation, the TCO must meet the requirements of ICAO Annex 19, Safety Management Systems by November 26, 2016. What this means is if you fly to Europe, you must apply for and receive a TCO authorization.
Part of the approval process is to have a state recognized SMS in accordance with Annex 19. One fundamental part of ICAO's Standards and EASA's risk-based considerations for TCO acceptance is State (FAA) oversight.
Part 135 operators will require an authorization when flying to Europe under TCO. EASA has said they will not require an authorization under the TCO for fractional operations.
EASA's SMS requirements in TCO authorizations are based on ICAO standards. ICAO standards in Annex 19 require that an operator's SMS must be "acceptable to the State" (U.S. FAA). The FAA does not currently recognize third-party sponsored SMSs for acceptance but recognizes an operator installed SMS under the FAA's own SMS Voluntary Program (SMSVP).
If you are already registered under the SMS based International Standard for Business Aircraft Operators (IS-BAO), you may also wish to contact the IS-BAO sponsoring International Business Aircraft Council (IBAC) or the NBAA for further background and guidance on this upcoming requirement.
Broadly, it looks like a two-step process is required: first, figuring out with the FAA whether the SMS you already have installed will qualify as "FAA recognized" and how that recognition is documented (or if you do not yet have an SMS in place, what you must do to get one), and second, obtaining a TCO authorization from EASA. Bon Chance!