Int’l bizav standards

 - October 4, 2007, 6:04 AM

By next summer, a corporate flight department, probably one based in Europe, will become the first recipient of a certificate confirming that it fully meets the international standards for business aircraft operations (IS-BAO).

IS-BAO is a concept developed by the International Business Aircraft Council (IBAC) to establish standards for worldwide corporate operations. In essence it is a code of best practices that can be translated into operations manuals customized to individual organizations. In many ways, IS-BAO can be compared to the ISO standards used in manufacturing industries, which ensures that a company operates at an internationally recognized performance level in quality and safety, among others.

But IS-BAO offers the extra benefit of proof of international recognition for the world’s corporate aviation community, whose members often find themselves in smaller nations with no significant aviation administration and little understanding of business flying. Correspondingly, promulgation of the IS-BAO standards to these smaller nations can ease the handling of the few corporate based aircraft, as well as those in transit. Corporate operators frequently express concern about the worldwide implementation of different rules and regulations, and one of the aims of IS-BAO is to create a harmonized set of international business aviation standards.

Conceived almost two years ago by IBAC director general Donald Spruston, the IS-BAO concept has been welcomed by overseas corporate operators and their managements, who see in it a valuable yardstick to first measure, and then meet and maintain, their total performance against the industry’s highest professional standards. There are today, of course, international standards such as ICAO Annex 6 Part 3, governing international general aviation operations, and Europe has similar rules in JAR OPS 1, but neither of these is detailed or specific enough for business aviation.

Spruston therefore gathered together the ICAO and JAR paperwork, in addition to the FAA’s Part 91, Transport Canada’s CAR-604 and NBAA’s management guide, and produced a draft proof-of-concept document. The heavy work began in June last year, when representatives of North American, South American and European operators conducted a comprehensive review of the proposal. They started with its broad concepts and then broke off into smaller focus groups to examine specific areas, such as safety management, training and international operations in more detail.

After many more review meetings, the working groups established a set of standards, from which has been produced a code of best practices that are fully responsive to the unique needs of corporate aviation. From these practices, which reflect those of organizations felt to be the industry’s leaders, two generic operations manuals have been developed, one of which follows the North American format, and another which follows the European JAR format. IBAC then tested the manuals by reviewing them with the staff at four large corporate operations to check whether they were on the right track. The results were encouraging, according to Spruston.

How will IS-BAO certification be attained? Again, the process is similar to the ISO certification procedure in other industries. It is entirely voluntary, and any interested organization can request the standards documentation. After reviewing the standards, it can opt not to go any further, it can adopt all or any part of the standards without further IBAC involvement or it can apply to IBAC for certification, the latter of which requires a complete audit by IBAC accredited auditors.

IBAC has established a standards board to manage the IS-BAO process, consisting of its governing board, its safety operations group and three representatives nominated by operators in North America, South America and Europe. Reporting to the standards board is a professional standards staff, which is now being established. That board will be responsible for maintaining and updating standards and its associated Web site, as well as the accreditation of auditors and a registration system.