Feb. 18, 2015

Several small and large fixed base operators (FBOs) around the world are in the process of adopting the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH), with SRC Aviation Ltd. of New Delhi, India recently becoming the first company certified to the new standard.

Kurt Edwards, director general of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), presented the first IS-BAH certificate to Brig. M.K. Idnani, CEO of SRC Aviation, during the recent BizAv India Conference in Bangalore, India.

Like the way IS-BAO – the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations – works for companies that fly business airplanes, IS-BAH is a voluntary, performance-based program for ground handlers. Both standards were developed by IBAC based on current industry best practices for ensuring quality and managing risk.

The foundation of IS-BAH, like IS-BAO, is a safety management system (SMS); however, IS-BAH is geared toward avoiding ground mishaps and protecting people on the ramp. IBAC developed IS-BAH in conjunction with the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and IS-BAH replaces NATA’s Ground Audit Standard.

What to Do, Not How to Do It

At the 2015 NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (SDC2015), representatives from FBOs in the process of implementing IS-BAH, as well as IBAC and NATA officials, shared tips for adopting the standard.

“It’s not a turnkey solution, it’s not something you buy and put on the shelf,” said Michael France, director of safety and training at NATA. “If you have an SMS, you can benchmark against IS-BAH; if you don’t, it’s a great framework to build your SMS.”

IBAC and NATA designed the standard to be useful to both global FBO chains and small “mom and pop” handlers. In fact, one of the FBOs currently working on IS-BAH certification only has one employee.

“We don’t actually tell you how to run your operation. The standard doesn’t do that,” said Terry Yeomans, IS-BAH program director at IBAC. Instead, IS-BAH describes best practices for managing the ramp and facilities, protecting passengers and cargo, training personnel, handling hazardous material and maintaining equipment. “It tells you what to do, not how to do it.”

Do the Line Techs Believe in It?

To become IS-BAH certified, FBOs can attend an IBAC Fundamentals of IS-BAH Workshop, conduct a gap analysis against the IS-BAH manual, and develop and integrate procedures to address any gaps.

“As pioneers of this program, we needed a team who believed IS-BAH is worth doing,” said Joseph Azzaz, FBO manager at Cannes-Mandelieu Airport in France. “Key to success is having a team to lead the project and budget the time and money to do it. Then, the next step is getting all your documentation together.”

Still, FBO managers working on IS-BAH insist the standard is about more than writing manuals.

“I don’t want just a piece of paper, I want everyone to live what the framework encourages us to,” said Bobby Butler, senior vice president of global partnerships for Universal Weather & Aviation. “Line employees will look to their immediate bosses and ask, ‘Do we really have to do this?’ Those are the people I try to reach with IS-BAH principles.”