June 26, 2019

The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), at the request of and with the guidance of several IS-BAO-registered Stage 3 companies, is establishing a “Progressive Stage 3” option. A range of operators – from large organizations to single aircraft operators – are participating in the development of Progressive Stage 3 initiative.

Progressive Stage 3 operators will comply with the same IS-BAO protocols as any other Stage 3 operators, but will demonstrate compliance in a different manner. For example, operators will share deidentified Safety Management Systems (SMS) data with IBAC on a regular basis, and will include the IS-BAO audit progressively over the course of a year as part of their internal audit program.

Though exact details are yet to be determined, it is likely their performance will be validated annually by a check auditor during a single day audit with some checks possibly web-based, depending on the trials.

“Operators were looking for evolution for mature safety programs, asking ‘What’s beyond Stage 3?’,’” said Bennet Walsh, IS-BAO’s programme director. “We all realized maybe there is no Stage 4, but there are options to the traditional audit model.

“Progressive Stage 3 is more of a continuous monitoring system than a single big audit,” added Walsh. “It is a conformance option for an operator with a mature SMS and it reflects changing regulatory oversight methods in some States. The progressive option and the traditional audit are equal choices for operators depending on their culture and systems.”

Another new aspect to Progressive Stage 3 is the leadership component. Every Progressive Stage 3 operator will be required to participate in roundtables, act as a mentor to another organization, engage with the operator review board, or meet some other leadership requirement. The leadership component will be important to Progressive Stage 3, but Walsh added that while the program will include peer involvement, it will not be “peer review.”

“I continue to be impressed by IS-BAO registered operators who pursue SMS voluntarily,” said Walsh. “The operators themselves advocated for the leadership component and that speaks loudly to the excellence of IS-BAO operators worldwide who have found such value in SMS and in IS-BAO in particular.”

Progressive Stage 3 is currently in test mode with four operators participating. IBAC anticipates about 18 months until a final Progressive Stage 3 is introduced. A Progressive Stage 3 operator will not be considered a superior or inferior operator to a traditional Stage 3 organization. The ranking is equal; only the validation of IS-BAO standards is different.

“It’s exciting for NBAA members, especially those who have worked hard and put in the time and resources to achieve a mature SMS, to have a new option for maintaining Stage 3,” said Doug Carr, NBAA vice president and regulatory and international affairs. “The leadership component in particular is demonstrative of what the business aviation community has said for decades – there’s no competition in safety.”

IBAC is an international trade association representing the interests of business aircraft operators around the world, promoting safety and advocating for access and appropriate regulation to facilitate growth. IBAC member associations include NBAA, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and 12 other global business aviation groups.