Meeting outlines ACSF audit standard goals

 - June 24, 2011, 3:59 AM

Fourteen charter operators and four auditing companies met early last month to discuss whether there should be a single audit standard for the charter and fractional-share industry. The meeting was organized by the Air Charter Safety Foundation, which developed the ACSF industry audit standard and is proposing that this be the sole standard used for auditing charter companies.

“We had some great dialogue,” said ACSF president Bryan Burns. “While there’s still work to do, we made excellent progress in identifying and isolating some issues. It’s our intent to continue to pursue the industry audit standard and try to make it a win-win for the industry.”

The issue of a single standard has resurfaced because operators have complained about having to pay for audits to standards set by different groups such as Argus, Wyvern and SH&E. After all, the formation of the ACSF was the result of an industry working group that wanted to create a single standard because they were tired of all the multiple audits. “We got to the point where industry has reached out to us and said we need to get this back on track,” said Burns. One operator complained of spending $175,000 during the past few years having audits conducted. This was on top of lost productivity. And some operators make changes to comply with the most recent audit, even when that change no longer meets an earlier audit standard. “That’s just bad business,” Burns said.

There are 30 companies meeting the ACSF audit standard, including one with one aircraft and one with three aircraft. “Smaller companies are capable of meeting the standard,” he said. Executive Jet Management, the NetJets division, was also at the meeting and continues to support the ACSF standard, according to Burns, even though the company recently decided to start using its own internally developed audit standard.

At the meeting, he said, “We reemphasized that the foundation is the perfect organization to facilitate the standard. The bigger message is that we want to make sure that the group knows we are focused on the standard and not the audit. We are in the standards business. There was confusion in the room about the ACSF being a competitor. That wasn’t the message at all. We distinctly tried to share with the group that we’re all about standards.” The independent audit companies are still needed to conduct the audits for operators. “The majority of the auditing companies that were participating felt they could add an arrow to their quiver to accomplish what the industry’s asking for.”

Those at the meeting want the ACSF to keep the standard achievable, scalable and flexible, Burns said. The plan is to continue reviewing the standard and ensuring that it is in line with current regulations, he said, “making sure it’s not becoming too onerous and unreasonable.”

Burns plans to continue spreading the word about a single audit standard for charter and fractional operators at regional meetings around the U.S. “We are on a nationwide awareness campaign,” he said. “We want to reiterate that there’s a need for a single standard and there’s potential common ground for everybody.”