This week HAI announced the first four helicopter operators to be certified under its newly launched accreditation program of safety (APS), an audit-based system that focuses on mission-specific standards. Introduced at the beginning of the year, the voluntary program is derived from the International Business Aviation Council’s (IBAC) widely accepted International Standard for Business Aviation Operators (IS-BAO); HAI partnered with IBAC to modify the standard, to tailor it specifically to helicopter operations.
The new HAI-APS is available only to HAI members who are currently IS-BAO certified or will be simultaneously pursuing both certifications, as IS-BAO registration is a requisite for the new HAI standard. While most regulations are designed to meet the minimum standards of safety, the new program will allow operators to achieve and promote a higher degree of safety, according to HAI.
The association is offering the program–scalable for any size operation–as a benefit for members, so cost is limited to basically administration costs by the association to make it affordable for even the smallest operators. “[It’s] not a revenue mechanism for HAI. We’re doing the whole thing for cost,” noted HAI president and CEO Matt Zuccaro, adding that small operators with five or fewer helicopters account for about 75 percent of his organization’s membership.
“One thing that we wanted to do when we designed this program [was] to bring an accreditation and SMS safety program to the smallest operators out there,” said Dennis Pratte, HAI’s director of safety, noting that HAI charges just $250 for its portion of the standard. Additional initial costs include the IS-BAO manuals ($1,200) and certification ($750) plus the audit fees. For a small operation the total cost will be less than $2,000 a year for accreditation. Fees are fixed for medium and large operators as well. Unlike IBAC, HAI will assign an auditor, based upon the needs of the operator. Provided prospective candidates conduct a fair amount of preparation, the HAI portion of the audit can be conducted on site in one day, said Pratte, noting that HAI will provide mentoring and review the standards compliance with operators to help them prepare for the audit.
The four initial operators recognized include Paradise Helicopters (air tours), Brainerd Helicopters (DBA Firehawk Helicopters, external-load/heavy-lift), Papillon Helicopters (air tour), and Life Flight Network (helicopter air ambulance). Another 10 certifications are currently in progress. Provided all the standards are requested and audited at the same time, the $250 fee will cover multiple mission standards for multi-use operators if they meet the audit requirements.