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Wed, Apr 06, 2011

Air Charter Safety Foundation Seeks One Industry Audit Safety Standard

Organization Says New EMJ Audit Standard Not Necessary

The air charter industry was recently thrust into a state of audit confusion with the announcement by Executive Jet Management (EJM) that their charter support vendors will now undergo an additional audit with a new audit standard.

The industry confusion stems from the fact that EJM and Net Jets are one of the largest financial supporters of the Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) and strongly support its goals. EJM, a well-known aircraft management company and subsidiary of and supplier to NetJets, worked closely with many leaders from the charter industry for more than three years in an effort to create and refine one standard by which all could be measured.

This industry group effort was successful, and the standard that was collaboratively developed has become known as the Air Charter Safety Foundation Industry Audit Standard (IAS). This standard puts registered charter operators on par with the leading scheduled airlines of the world that code share, since they use a similar standard. After its creation, the IAS was used by EJM for almost two years and, in fact, suppliers were told that they were expected to meet the standard over the next few years. Nearly 30 charter operators have achieved the IAS registration.
 
"The ACSF is reaching out to all independent auditors to get back to the proverbial roundtable and figure out how to establish and agree to one safety standard. We owe it to the charter community. But most of all, we owe it to the chartering public who have the right to know to what standard their charter provider is adhering," said ACSF President Bryan Burns in a statement. "There is no question that comprehensive third-party auditing of air charter companies is a good idea. Remember, the FAA regulates to a minimum standard. The question is, what standard will show consumers that some operators have invested in and obtained a higher standard thereby reducing risk?

"The reality now is that some charter operators are faced with 10 to 15 audits per year, all of which have different undisclosed standards. Some operators literally have to re-write manuals from one week to the next in order to appease these different standards. Obviously, this is an industry in chaos. The ultimate downside of this confusion is a reduction in safety, and not one that the industry can risk. This situation should not be allowed to continue. And yes, looming over the horizon will be yet another standard when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) determines what their Safety Management System requirements are going to be. It is not a rosy picture for the air charter industry, charter customers, safety in general and, ultimately, the national air transportation system.

"The FAA sets the minimum standard for both scheduled and on-demand air carriers," the statement continues. "With the development of best practices, quality management systems and now safety management systems, there are ways to reduce risk continually. The scheduled air carriers of the world recognized this and developed a way to measure one's ability to achieve a world-class status. The FAA recognized this and allowed this standard to be used to meet the requirements established in the code share rules. So, what is the issue in the on-demand charter market? Are there too few operators able to reach this world-class level? Will we have to settle for some lower standard so more can get on the registry? Or, will the industry pull itself out of the old paradigm of mutable un-disclosed standards?

"Charter operators are now faced with a dilemma: Do I pick an easy unpublished standard, or do I put my head down, push my organization across the finish line, and join the rest of the world-class operators that are measured by one industry standard that is published for the world to see? The ACSF created one world-class standard that did not compete with anyone in the business but was designed by leading charter operators and audit companies to promote and enhance safety throughout the entire industry. It is time we establish and agree to one standard and make it stick."

FMI: www.acsf.aero

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