Inspecting the Unexpected: Accountability in FAA Inspections

Written by Luke Fowler, C.M.

“What is this and how long has this been here?”

This is the question the FAA Safety Certification Inspector poses to you during your Annual Safety Certification out brief in front of your team, boss, and possibly airport board members. You know what it is. It’s a high voltage transformer box located just inside the runway safety area (RSA) and indicated on the RSA inventory sheet with coordinates, functionality, and frangibility. But you struggle to answer the second part of the question. How long has this thing been here? Is it in a document somewhere? Does our facilities team have this information? Will this result in a discrepancy write-up from the FAA if I don’t give them a satisfactory answer? The inspector and your boss are looking at you for a response, but you have none. This oversight could end up costing your airport dozens of hours in lost productivity having staff find the correct document or thousands of dollars in fines levied by the FAA for noncompliance.

All of this can be avoided entirely if you just had accurate, portable, and complete as-builts ready at your fingertips when the runway was opened for aircraft on day one. MySmartPlans ensures that all your airport teams in operations, maintenance, construction, and administration have access to the same project information. Anywhere. Anytime. No more finger-pointing at other departments or contractors for failing to provide reliable diagrams for your airfield projects. A robust application on your tablet that you or your team can take with you onto the airfield with a digital library. The good news is that it exists.

How can you help me?

It all begins with data collection. Our Project Information Managers (PIMs) meet with your team’s project leaders. This could include members of the airport construction department, planning department, or general contractors. The PIMs will then identify the key members from these groups to see where key documents are being generated as well as how data interfaces with project systems.

Next, a Project Dashboard is built with input from the airport construction project team. MySmartPlans will provide system training, technical support, a plan holder list, site maps, and other relevant information to be added to your project’s Digital Library. Our PIMs will work directly with general contractors, architects, subcontractors, and consultants to ensure the information is accurate, properly formatted, and not missing any crucial data. Concurrently, files are enhanced to improve viewing, navigation, and searchability.

Finally, we work with the project team to identify information needed for closeout. We partner with the airport, contractors, consultants, and other project stakeholders to index everything into a data dashboard for everyone to use long after the project is over.

Is the data truly mine once the project ends?

Yes, and it always will be! We turn your Digital Library over to you after project closeout creating a self-contained time capsule with a data guarantee of up to 50 years. There are an unlimited number of users who can register for access to your dashboard along with unlimited storage and bandwidth.

What if I need help after closeout?

Not a problem! Our Project Information Managers are always available to assist with data maintenance, customer support, and new feature integration. We will work with you to ensure your project’s information is always up to date.


What does the FAA have to say about all this?

It’s important to note that our deliverable is not intended to be used as a daily inspection tool for FAR Part 139 certified personnel. Rather, it is designed to serve as an insightful supplemental dashboard for finding accurate and reliable data from construction projects to present to FAA Safety Inspectors if requested.

Rob Hawks, the Deputy Director of FAA Office of Airport Planning and Programming has stated that an “ADO may approve Sponsor requests, on a case-by-case basis, to include a specifically allocated portion of the costs of software acquisition, licensing and/or subscription. The ADO may only approve the portion of the cost that is directly attributable to a specific, FAA-approved AIP project, only for the duration of the approved AIP project, and only for the entity that is actually doing the work for which the software is required.”

Simply put, your airport may be eligible to cover the expense of our services through AIP Funding if you’re working on a qualifying project. This can potentially result in even greater savings for you and your team down the road. As always, we recommend checking with your local ADO before making any changes to your processes.

The next time you’re on an inspection and the FAA asks you a question about a change to the taxiway, you’ll be able to confidently say that you have the answer in MySmartPlans. Ready to get started? Contact us today for a free demo.

Contact Information:

Luke Fowler, C.M. (816) 479-0266

Shelley Armato (816) 728-8899

Dominick Armato (816) 728-0808

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