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IS-BAO | November 28, 2013

Author: Scott Macpherson

The IS-BAO is written and maintained by and for operators and their suppliers, not underwriters or governments.

It is not, wasn’t ever intended to be, nor should it become, a “regulation” or requirement. Rather, it is the result of ongoing industry members’ input and revision to record and update the methods and ideas used by operators who find them effective. It belongs to the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and is a live standard with volunteers working to constantly improve it.

Having said this, at least two of the major underwriters give 5% discounts on premiums to IS-BAO registered departments, which pays for all the effort.

The IS-BAO corrects the long repeated error that “safety is our first priority”.

Getting the job done (flying people and goods where they need to go, when they need to go) is the first priority. If safety was first, we wouldn’t fly because risks are inherent in flying. Rather, safety is the mode by which we accomplish our role. The IS-BAO recognizes that we are going to fly, so it focuses us on identifying hazards and their resulting risks, eliminating or avoiding the hazards where possible, and managing the remaining risks to an acceptable level.

The IS-BAO is scalable, by and for your specific operation.

This is a cornerstone of the IS-BAO. Three flight departments along a hangar row will have three totally different purposes (corporate shuttle using a single RJ; international ops using a Global; company pipeline patrol) and therefore each has different risks, mitigations, and levels of complexity. There is no “one size fits all” solution, and there should not be. A single-person flight department can have a 25-page manual with a very simple SMS using an annual risk profile, hazard reporting cards, and MS Outlook entries to regularly review the details.

The IS-BAO should, by moving work from reactive to planned, reduce administrative workload and make more time available for flying.

This is true for small and large departments alike. If done correctly and with careful consideration, IS-BAO provides some of the structure required to move work forward to the planning stages so that there is less “hangar rash”, less fixing and more preventative maintenance, more strategic risk management and less tactical disarray in flight as conditions change, etc. These are real-life examples from operators that have taken the time to make the IS-BAO their own and not tried to just “plug and play”.

This can be done totally in-house, which is great for team building and department efficiency, or by using vendors with systems that can be customized to your needs and used to serve you. There are many good consultants who write manuals to your needs and can help you to look at your operation with a broad industry perspective and to consider new ideas for your own improvement.

The IS-BAO helps safe operations become safer.

No sane person goes flying or maintains an aircraft intending to be unsafe. No one believes that they are perfect. So everyone believes that they are safe, at least today, while no one believes that they have achieved perfect safety. Therefore, we all believe that we can improve and become safer. The IS-BAO is a systemic way of achieving that. Can you name your top 3 hazards? Your top 5 risks? Your primary mitigations for those risks?

The IS-BAO is measurable and demonstrates to head office that the flight department offers superior value to alternatives.

Do you have some way to measure that things have improved since last year (say, a 25% reduction in HITS reports in a certain category, saving X dollars in insurance claims, moving from 96% to 98.X% in dispatch rate, reliability rate, availability rate, etc.)? At Weldwood, we were able to tie our performance measures and budget together for our year-end review, which fit right into the corporate review culture for our production facilities.

The IS-BAO saves money.

As mentioned above, insurance premiums are lower, which is very significant. Fewer repairs results in a higher aircraft residual value and fewer charters. Less office time results in less part-time relief work hired out. IS-BAO disciplines will, if line users really see that management is taking their input seriously and acting on it, result in maintenance and operations team members finding ways to work more efficiently and seeking approvals that will save money.

When I ran Weldwood of Canada’s flight department, all of the above applied and I got to fly more. And that was good.

I wish the same for you.


Scott Macpherson is the President and Founder of and Vice-Chairman of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) Governing Board. He is currently Captain on a Falcon 900LX.

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