IS-BAO

The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) is developed by the business aviation and international helicopter communities to foster aviation safety. The purpose is to promote global standardization and to assist operators in establishing quality flight operations using best practices of business aircraft and of helicopter operations world-wide. The IS-BAO Standard and its associated audit and registration programmes are managed by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

The IS-BAO generally reflects the requirements of ICAO Annex 6, Part II and Part III, Section 2, and Annex 19 (SMS), plus other industry best practices. First released in 2002 and officially recognized as a European Standard by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) in 2009, the IS-BAO is adopted by an ever-growing number of very diverse fixed-wing and rotary-wing flight departments, commercial operators and aerial work specialists throughout the world.

The IS-BAO contains 13 sections covering the essentials of business aircraft operations (e.g., qualifications, training, facilities, etc.) and has safety management at its core. The focus of IS-BAO audits is not exclusively on conformance with the IS-BAO Standard. More importantly, IS-BAO accredited auditors also assess the level of maturity of the operator’s SMS. Three stages have been defined as follows:

  • Stage 1: the necessary SMS infrastructure is in place; past and planned safety management activities are appropriately targeted.
  • Stage 2: confirms that safety management activities are appropriately targeted, and that safety-risks are being effectively managed.
  • Stage 3: confirms that safety management activities are fully integrated into the operator’s business; and that a positive safety culture is being sustained.

IS-BAO certificates of registration are typically valid for 2 years. Operators achieving Stage 1 are required to pass a Stage 2 audit within 24 months. There’s no additional requirement to achieve Stage 3 but that’s a very remarkable achievement for operators who display exceptional safety performance.

What’s the difference between a complex and a non-complex operator?

Europe attempted to come up with a clear definition, however it’s obviously an intricate subject. In EU aviation regulations the complexity of an organisation is a function of its:

  • Size: are there less or more than 20 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs)?
  • Complexity of the activity: for instance the number of operating sites, number and type of contractors; etc.; and/or
  • Risks: are different aircraft types involved? What’s the operating environment like? Are specialized operations conducted (e.g., helicopter hoist)?

Why make a distinction between operators if it doesn’t exist in the IS-BAO Standard itself?

Every operator is different, and every audit is different, even at the same operator. However, as a courtesy to our visitors from around the world, we proactively answer your legitimate questions regarding the duration of an IS-BAO audit by providing estimates and a brief overview of the audit process based on the complexity of the operation to be audited, and on the level of SMS maturity that needs to be demonstrated. Please bear in mind that they only provide an indication of the duration of an audit. Most EU operators are likely to already know in which category they’ve been placed. In any other case refer to the guidelines above and contact us if any question remains.

 


Non-complex operators

Initial audit

Operators in this category would typically have up to four or five aircraft, no more than two different aircraft types in the fleet, a single base of operation and multi-talented crewmembers capable of properly managing the operation once they’re back on the ground. Continuing airworthiness management, maintenance and sometimes dispatch would be contracted but there are exceptions.

Initial audits (a.k.a. registration audits) at non-complex operators typically involve the interview of the entire staff since it’s usually a small, tight-knit and very busy team. Since each and every element of the IS-BAO audit protocol must be assessed at a Stage 1 audit, conducting the audit in a proper manner requires time (on an average 3±1 man-days) and subject matter expertise.

To reduce the duration of the on-site audit we generally perform it with a team of two auditors. Each one of them will focus on his/her own areas of expertise. Be assured that both of them will have pertinent experience in small and/or very small operations, and be able to very quickly understand your unique risks, challenges and opportunities. Since IS-BAO is scalable and performance-based, the expectations differ depending on the size and complexity of the operations. We fully support this approach and perform our audits accordingly.

Contact us with your company details and receive a free quote for your IS-BAO audit.

Back to top

Non-complex operators

Renewal audit

Operators in this category would typically have up to four or five aircraft, no more than two different aircraft types in the fleet, a single base of operation and multi-talented crewmembers capable of properly managing the operation once they’re back on the ground. Continuing airworthiness management, maintenance and sometimes dispatch would be contracted but there are exceptions.

Renewal audits at non-complex operators typically involve the interview of the entire staff since the main focus of Stage 2 and Stage 3 audits is the Safety Management System (SMS). Is it functioning? Are results being measured? Are SMS activities appropriately targeted? Are safety risks being effectively managed? Since the functioning and performance of the SMS must be reviewed, conducting the audit in a proper manner requires time (on an average 3±1 man-days) and subject matter expertise.

To reduce the duration of the on-site audit we generally perform it with a team of two auditors. Each one of them will focus on his/her own areas of expertise. Be assured that both of them will have pertinent experience in small and/or very small operations, and be able to very quickly understand your unique risks, challenges and opportunities. Since IS-BAO is scalable and performance-based, the expectations differ depending on the size and complexity of the operations. We fully support this approach and perform our audits accordingly.

Contact us with your company details and receive a free quote for your IS-BAO audit.

Back to top

Complex operators

Initial audit

Operators in this category would typically have between five aircraft and several dozens of them, at least three or four different aircraft types in the fleet, multiple bases of operation and a solid management team at the company’s headquarters on at least a half-time, if not a full-time, basis. Continuing airworthiness management and operational control would usually be performed internally. Most maintenance would be contracted but it’s not unusual to see line maintenance or even heavy maintenance being performed in-house as well.

Initial audits (a.k.a. registration audits) at complex operators typically involve the interview of a representative sample of all management positions with the participation of only a few crewmembers. Since each and every element of the IS-BAO audit protocol must be assessed at a Stage 1 audit, conducting the audit in a proper manner requires time (on an average 4±1 man-days) and subject matter expertise.

To reduce the duration of the on-site audit we generally perform it with a team of two auditors. Each one of them will focus on his/her own areas of expertise. Be assured that both of them will have pertinent experience in medium or large operations, and be able to very quickly understand your unique risks, challenges and opportunities. Since IS-BAO is scalable and performance-based, the expectations differ depending on the size and complexity of the operations. We fully support this approach and perform our audits accordingly.

Contact us with your company details and receive a free quote for your IS-BAO audit.

Back to top

Complex operators

Renewal audit

Operators in this category would typically have between five aircraft and several dozens of them, at least three or four different aircraft types in the fleet, multiple bases of operation and a solid management team at the company’s headquarters on at least a half-time, if not a full-time, basis. Continuing airworthiness management and operational control would usually be performed internally. Most maintenance would be contracted but it’s not unusual to see line maintenance or even heavy maintenance being performed in-house as well.

Renewal audits at complex operators typically involve the interview of a representative sample of all management and non-management positions, including crewmembers and mechanics (if any); since the main focus of Stage 2 and Stage 3 audits is the Safety Management System (SMS). Is it functioning? Are results being measured? Are SMS activities appropriately targeted? Are safety risks being effectively managed? Since the functioning and performance of the SMS must be reviewed, conducting the audit in a proper manner requires time (on an average 4±1 man-days) and subject matter expertise.

To reduce the duration of the on-site audit we generally perform it with a team of two auditors. Each one of them will focus on his/her own areas of expertise. Be assured that both of them will have pertinent experience in medium or large operations, and be able to very quickly understand your unique risks, challenges and opportunities. Since IS-BAO is scalable and performance-based, the expectations differ depending on the size and complexity of the operations. We fully support this approach and perform our audits accordingly.

Results from one or more safety culture survey(s) would be an asset, but there’s no clear expectation on this matter unless your company is aiming for a Stage 3 audit.

Contact us with your company details and receive a free quote for your IS-BAO audit.

Back to top

Gap Analysis or pre-audit

While a gap analysis is usually performed at the very beginning of an IS-BAO implementation project (e.g., to define a corporate strategy, goals and objectives), a pre-audit is typically done shortly before a registration or renewal IS-BAO audit. These tools are the safest bet if your organisation aims for an IS-BAO registration but is unsure about the distance remaining before reaching the objective. A gap analysis or a pre-audit is essentially an audit that remains strictly confidential between the operator and the audit organisation. Registration and renewal audits must be notified in advance to IBAC, which is not the case for gap analyses and pre-audits. The same flexibility applies to the gap analysis report itself, which does not have to be transmitted to IBAC.

Would a gap analysis or pre-audit yield a better return on investment than a full-scale audit? They’re the best option whenever your organisation…

  • Considers an IS-BAO registration and wants an expert, independent opinion on the gap remaining to registration and on the best path to be taken in order to achieve it; or
  • Started implementing IS-BAO from scratch and wants to assess the soundness of the new management systems; or
  • Is almost ready for an audit and wishes to perform a life-size assessment beforehand.

In any case the right thing to do is to call an experienced auditor to assess the current situation, point out any issue that might delay your IS-BAO registration/renewal and provide strategic guidance to reach your objective. Gap analyses do not have to cover the complete IS-BAO standard: they can also be bound to one or several specific sections of your choice.

 

Back to top

Complex or Non-Complex?

What’s the difference between a complex and a non-complex operator?

Europe attempted to come up with a clear definition, however it’s obviously an intricate subject. In EU aviation regulations the complexity of an organisation is a function of its:

  • Size: are there less or more than 20 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs)?
  • Complexity of the activity: for instance the number of operating sites, number and type of contractors; etc.; and/or
  • Risks: are different aircraft types involved? What’s the operating environment like? Are specialized operations conducted (e.g., helicopter hoist)?

Why make a distinction between operators if it doesn’t exist in the IS-BAO Standard itself?

Every operator is different, and every audit is different, even at the same operator. However, as a courtesy to our visitors from around the world, we proactively answer your legitimate questions regarding the duration of an IS-BAO audit by providing estimates and a brief overview of the audit process based on the complexity of the operation to be audited, and on the level of SMS maturity that needs to be demonstrated. Please bear in mind that they only provide an indication of the duration of an audit. Most EU operators are likely to already know in which category they’ve been placed. In any other case refer to the guidelines above and contact us if any question remains.

Back to top