In an informational session yesterday, IBAC formally unveiled its new International Standard for Business Aviation Handling or IS-BAH as it will be more commonly known.
Just as IBAC’s International Standard for Business Aviation Operations (IS-BAO) has brought a formalized safety standard to the operation of private aircraft over the past 12 years, so, too, will IS-BAH for the FBO and ground-handling businesses, say the program’s organizers.
“IS-BAH mirrors the Is-BAO standard,” said James Cannon, IBAC’s IS-BAO director. “It represents FBO and handling agency industry best practices. It integrates the principles of a safety management system [SMS].”
The concept, initially begun by EBAA, was taken over by IBAC and was formally initiated two years ago, with working groups established among EBAA, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and IBAC to establish the first IS-BAH standard, which was then sent to industry members for review.
The organization expects the first standard to be released on July 1. It will be revised on that date on an annual basis, incorporating the recommendations suggested by industry and approved by an IS-BAH standards board, which will meet every year before the beginning of EBACE.
“Safety is not a destination,” Cannon told the audience. “It is a continuous process, it’s going to go on, it’s going to evolve long into the future.” To manage that evolution, Cannon said service providers will need to formulate a collective body of best practices similar to the ones that have made business aviation the safest segment of civil aviation today. He believes most providers in an industry that has received very little regulation, already adhere to at least 90 percent of the practices contained in the IS-BAH standard.
IBAC partnered with NATA in establishing the new voluntary standard, and it will incorporate NATA’s Safety 1st ground services audit program, which as part of the agreement, will cease to exist when IS-BAH begins. “NATA did not have the reach to do this on their own, so this has worked out to be a great partnership” said Cannon. “They’ve given us a lot of their intellectual property, which we’ve incorporated into our standard, and we’ve provided them with the forum with which we can reach out to the entire business aviation community to set standards.” Those who have gone through the NATA audit will receive credit towards achieving the new standard.
Like the related IS-BAO, the voluntary audit-based progressive program will require purchase of the manual (which will include annual updates), registration and an independent audit from an IS-BAH-approved auditor. Just as some insurance providers offer discounts to IS-BAO-certified operators, Cannon expects such policies will eventually apply to IS-BAH-qualified service providers.
IBAC expects the new standard will supersede independent audits from operators. “As you know NetJets flies worldwide. It’s impossible for us to reach every single handling agent or unit we use, so having this standard will reassure the operator that you are meeting the standards,” said Helena Azevedo, the fractional-share provider’s quality assurance administrator.