Enhanced contracted aircraft operator audits

Contracted aircraft operator safety audits being revamped

contracted aircraft operator

From the beginning of next year, the BARS Programme Stage 2 will offer two audit streams leading to registration: Comprehensive Audits and Core Audits. Picture Credit: Nigel Pittaway

30 November 2017

Global flight safety standards for contracted aircraft operators are being revamped, with updates to the Flight Safety Foundation’s international audit program to take effect from early next year.

The Australian office of the Flight Safety Foundation developed the Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) Programme in 2010 to provide a common global aviation safety assessment and audit protocol for contracted aircraft operators.

Flight Safety Foundation managing director David Anderson said the BARS Programme Stage 2 changes were based on industry feedback from resources, mining, agricultural, insurance and aid agency organisations that contract aircraft and helicopter operators, that wanted improved visibility of how safety measures are implemented.

“The BARS Programme was created by the Flight Safety Foundation in collaboration with some of the world’s largest resource and mining companies to provide a more efficient means of monitoring, assessing and analysing risks associated with contracted aviation operators,” Anderson said.

“Industry, auditors and aircraft operators will benefit from the changes as part of the second stage of the BARS Programme because it will provide better evaluation of implementation as well as greater flexibility on audit fees and requirements.

“The programme updates have been based on widespread consultation with stakeholders of the Programme as well as the findings from more than 480 audits conducted on 160 different aircraft operators in 31 countries.”

Flight Safety Foundation’s BARS Programme was recently recognised as a world leader in “continually improving aviation safety methods” for aircraft contractors when nominated as a finalist in the Australian Export Awards that are due to be announced in early December.

Anderson said that, from the beginning of next year, the BARS Programme Stage 2 would offer two audit streams leading to registration: Comprehensive Audits and Core Audits.

The Comprehensive Audit stream would provide an enhanced level of recognition and evaluation for aircraft operators, while the Core Audit stream would allow operators to remain in the BARS Programme at a reduced level of commitment and cost.

He said that other changes included introducing negotiable fees for audits – dependent on the level and complexity required – revised audit checklists plus a limitation on the number of extensions to audit and close-out deadlines.

“For many aircraft operators, the cost of their audits is likely to fall because we are allowing audit companies to charge flexible fees, based on the level and complexity of an audit required,” Anderson said.

“In addition, the portion of audit fees that usually comes back to Flight Safety Foundation has been reduced, allowing further scope for price flexibility from auditing companies.”

Mr Anderson said that, before the BARS Programme existed, there were no clear benchmarks for resource and other companies to assess the safety of their own, or outsourced, air operations. This created multiple audit levels that were carried out with no information-sharing or comparability between companies.

“In some instances, operators had to undergo multiple audits from different contracting companies to widely differing standards. This breeds complexity for the operator in their ability to meet different standards and is very inefficient across the Industry with redundant audits going on,” he said.

“Under the BARS Programme, a common safety standard enables air operators to spend less time on multiple audits, encouraging them to devote more time to operational improvement and training.”

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