The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), launched in 2002 by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), has been granted official European recognition as an industry safety standard for business aircraft operations.
The endorsement will facilitate recognition of IS-BAO in the upcoming European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) implementing rules system. It is anticipated that noncommercial operators of complex aircraft will be able to use their IS-BAO registration in their declaration to the civil aviation authorities as the means that they use to meet the regulatory requirements and their associated responsibilities.
Because the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will require all commercial operations and operators of complex aircraft engaged in noncommercial operations to have a safety management system (SMS) in place, IS-BAO includes an
SMS toolkit that can be used to develop
an appropriate and effective SMS. IBAC and FlightSafety International have codeveloped the SMS course designed for flight department personnel that can be purchased separately.
According to the IBAC, SMS incorporates long-standing business aviation industry best practices and continuous improvement processes that are increasingly becoming a regulatory requirement and may be new to operators who have not implemented the IS-BAO standard. ICAO requires commercial operators to have SMS this year, and large and turbojet noncommercial operators will need it in November 2010.
With EU recognition, it also is expected that other national regulatory authorities will take into account IS-BAO registration in their regulatory oversight of business aviation operators engaged in commercial operations.
“The IS-BAO was developed as a professional safety code of practice for business aviation operators, and we encourage those operators to move forward with IS-BAO implementation so that they can be ready for the upcoming EASA implementing rules,” said Brian Humphries, president and CEO of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA).
Adopting an SMS model in the IS-BAO program means that for each flight department, there will be a risk assessment conducted, and if necessary, procedures developed and documentation produced.
In the same way that ISO 9000 specifies requirements for a quality management system overseeing the production of a product or service, IS-BAO is a similar standard developed for flight operations. IS-BAO is a standard for the management of risk in flight operations–including maintenance–how those risks will be assessed and the process of implementing changes to reduce the risks to as low a level as reasonably achievable.
Recognition of IS-BAO as the European industry standard was achieved through an agreement with the European Committee for Standardization and involved business aviation and regulatory authority representatives.
“EASA is pleased with the efforts that IBAC and EBAA made to have the IS-BAO recognized as a European standard,” said Jules Kneepkens, EASA rulemaking director. “This action will enable an operator’s IS-BAO registration to be recognized within the proposed EASA implementing rules system.”
Although IS-BAO has been recognized by the EU and ICAO, it has not received formal backing from the U.S. As a member of ICAO, the FAA is supposed to develop SMS guidelines for U.S. operators.
That has raised concerns among officials at NBAA and the Flight Safety Foundation, who warn that U.S. operators could become vulnerable if they are involved in an incident or accident in Europe or elsewhere and cannot demonstrate compliance with an official, government-backed SMS program.
While the FAA encourages each aviation service provider to develop and implement an SMS, the agency admitted these systems do not substitute for regulatory compliance or other certificate requirements, where applicable.
Because it has not completed guidelines for an SMS for U.S. operators, which were due last January 1, the FAA filed a “difference” with ICAO. In filing that difference, the FAA began talks with other countries asking them to honor the agency’s difference.
At present, there are no authorized provisions for FAA approval or acceptance of SMS programs, but additional guidance and tools are being developed. In late July, the agency issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that would require certain certificate holders, product manufacturers, applicants and employers to develop an SMS.