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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

International Operations Standard to be Released Mid-Year

By Thierry Dubois

The working group for a helicopter edition of the international standard for business aircraft operations (IS-BAO HE) is reporting progress toward its goal of launching the full document in the middle of this year. At the EASA Rotorcraft Symposium in December, Brian Humphries—both the chairman of the British Helicopter Association (BHA) and the CEO of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA)—explained how specific the IS-BAO HE will be for helicopters and how beneficial it should be for safety.

The core standard will be unchanged from the current IS-BAO, which already has 300 registered operators (some of them helicopter operators). The helicopter edition will include alternative means of compliance and guidance material. Part of it, too, will be industry-developed best practices, including operations manual templates.

The IS-BAO HE will address “the top three issues identified by the EHEST, and much more,” Humphries said. EHEST is the European component of the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST). For the effort to translate into effective safety improvement, incentives are needed, Humphries emphasized. Insurance companies hold the key with regulators, he said, hinting that some fixed-wing business aircraft operators already get credit (i.e., discounts in insurance premiums) for using IS-BAO.

The IS-BAO is founded on a safety management system and was developed by the industry, for the industry, Humphries insisted. IS-BAO HE, if widely adopted, will play a major role in raising the safety of small helicopter operators, he said. He expressed hopes this will encourage small operators to implement it. Some 80 percent of helicopter operators in Europe are small operators with less than two aircraft. Moreover, “small operators are not listening; they rarely attend safety conferences,” he noted. The IS-BAO is flexible enough to accommodate large fleets as well, according to its promoters.

Helicopter operators will be eligible for a certificate of registration after a conformity audit. The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) will accredit the auditor. “Audits take an awful lot of days every year. IS-BAO HE will reduce that,” Humphries pledged.

Bob Sheffield, Shell Aircraft’s managing director and the IHST executive director, is leading the working group. Operators, regulators and auditors are tapped for expertise. The first draft is to be issued in the first quarter of 2011. Along with the BHA and IBAC, the Helicopter Association International (HAI) and new EHA, the European helicopter lobbying association, are supporting the IS-BAO HE effort. (From March 2011 Rotorcraft Report)

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