Feb. 3, 2014

Listen to an NBAA Flight Plan about streamlining IS-BAO certification for small departments.

For many business aviation operations, the prospect of applying for registration in the International Standard for Business Aviation Operations (IS-BAO) program is an intimidating prospect. So, to counter that perception, the International Business Aviation Council (BAC) is considering streamlining the IS-BAO standard to make it more accessible to smaller flight departments, particularly for “single-plane, single-pilot” operations.

IS-BAO is a set of standards and business aviation-developed best practices for establishing a comprehensive safety culture in flight departments. Being audited to ensure conformance to these standards provides a registration guaranteeing compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization standards, and best practices for all types of business aircraft operations, large and small.

While many operators believe IS-BAO is designed specifically for international operations, the core safety management system (SMS) provides benefits for all types of operators. There are currently 700 IS-BAO registrants worldwide.

“We’ve tried to be as thorough as possible in creating our standards and implementing them,” said John Sheehan, the IS-BAO audit manager at IBAC. The IS-BAO program is administered by a council of industry representatives, most of whom, Sheehan acknowledged, come from larger flight departments. “The standard can be overwhelming to a small department when those people first look at it. They often wonder where to start, where to dig the first hole.”

After talking with representatives of those smaller departments, Sheehan said he and others at IBAC plan this year to put together a new set of IS-BAO templates that would simplify the process of creating an SMS.

“It would still have the basic functions, especially when you get to the creation of the SMS. If we can give them templates, they can go farther in the process. We want to give small operators the tools and make the process as simple as possible,” Sheehan suggested.

What many managers of smaller flight departments sometimes overlook is that they are already performing many of the tasks essential to the creation of an SMS, said Sheehan.

“I’d say they’re already doing well more than half of the program and may not even realize it,” he said. “In those cases, it’s a matter of [simply] writing it down in the form of a safety management plan, and that’s where the idea of templates could be a big help.”

IBAC is working on templates to make the process of organizing best practices into an SMS easier for smaller departments.

“The SMS toolkit is very large and has a wide variety of ways for applicants to comply,” Sheehan said. “But unfortunately, the single aircraft operator doesn’t always have time to go through all that. So we’re sending single aircraft operators a simplified version.”

The streamlined toolkit for small flight departments will yield the same results as the current offering, according to Sheehan. “There is still the same check-and-balance concept as applied to larger departments. It all comes across in the audit,” which is part of the SMS certification and recertification process, he said.