Aug. 18, 2014

Listen to an NBAA Flight Plan podcast on improving IS-BAO.

Each year, the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), a set of best operating practices for business aviation, is updated through a painstaking process that begins with ideas submitted by operators to the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), the industry organization that manages IS-BAO.

Instituted in 2002, IS-BAO is designed to improve business aviation safety worldwide, based on International Civil Aviation Organization standards. The key component of IS-BAO is its safety management system – a sustainable, organic set of best practices that promotes what IBAC calls a “risk-averse” culture for business aircraft operations big and small.

More than 700 flight departments in 35 countries have already achieved IS-BAO registration.

Each year, IS-BAO is improved and refined based on the input of operators around the world, said IBAC’s IS-BAO Program Director Sonnie Bates.

“Our favorite way to get that input is face-to-face,” Bates said. “We also send out emails to the industry each year, asking operators and auditors how IS-BAO can better serve them.”

The yearly calls for suggestions are then taken to the IS-BAO Standards Board, which is populated by members of the business aviation community. This ensures that this international code of best practices remains a product “for the industry, by the industry.”

Bates keeps a detailed log of the questions operators ask. That input becomes the basis for meetings and discussions throughout the year.

The process culminates with the annual IS-BAO Standards Board meeting. The board is composed of a chairman and vice chairman, both of whom must be currently serving as business aviation managers, along with 13 individuals who are directors in business aviation operations worldwide. Once operators’ suggestions reach the board, and questions about the issues raised have been answered and proposals honed, they become eligible for incorporation into IS-BAO.

“Some ideas are technical, some are procedural,” Bates said. “But no matter where they come from, they go through the same process as they rise to the level of consideration by the standards board.”

Bates noted that the questions are often similar, no matter what part of the world they come from.

“It’s one of the more amazing things I encounter worldwide,” he said. “When I go to Brazil, they’re asking the same questions as they’re asking in Germany. Whether it’s about fuel planning, fueling with passengers on board or weather considerations, they’re talking about the same thing.”

In fact, said Bates, his job of representing IS-BAO to operators around the globe often gives him the opportunity to create networking relationships that might not otherwise exist. Over the past year, he’s been encouraging operators to establish relationships with each other as a way to promote best practices.

“It’s happening,” he said. “That’s one of the more exciting things I’ve encountered in this job.”