Does Your Team Know What To Do In An Emergency?

Could everyone on your team answer the following question: If an aircraft is overdue or unable to be reached after its scheduled arrival time, what is the first thing you do?

An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is a vital document used to ensure proper actions are taken if the worst occurs. For operators of all sizes, it’s important to have processes documented not only for responding to the initial phone call and emergency, but also for ongoing considerations such as what to say to the media or press.

Here are 4 things to consider when developing your ERP:

1. It should be customized to the size and complexity of your operation

From the large corporation to the single pilot operator, an ERP should be tailored to match your needs. While large companies may need to concern themselves with interactions between internal departments (such as HR, Public Relations, and any established Business Continuity Plans), a single pilot operator may need to focus on logistics such as documenting where critical aircraft and personnel records are kept, as well as who should be notified on their behalf in the event of an emergency.

2. It should cover more than just an aircraft accident

When most people think of an “emergency” in aviation they think of an aircraft accident or incident. However, a good ERP should cover non-aircraft related emergencies that your operation could encounter as well. These could include medical emergencies, a hangar fire, or security-related incidents. Additionally, an ERP should have procedures to cover immediate and post incident responses, as well as long-term processes to return to normal operations after the emergency has passed or subsided.

3. It should be objective oriented

The ultimate goal of any ERP is to take care of your people and protect your brand in a critical situation. When developing your ERP, you should keep it focused on basic objectives to support that goal, such as assisting crew and families with travel, communicating effectively internally and externally, and supporting investigations or other regulatory requirements. As you think through the steps of your plan, be sure to ask yourself, “How can I best support our objectives?” and “Does this activity support the objectives?”

4. It should be built so anyone can handle the initial phone call and begin the response process without prior training

It is recommended to train your personnel on the ERP, which could include periodic practice drills and table-top exercises or, if possible, appointing individuals with ERP responsibilities. However, your plan should be clear enough that, if needed, anyone in your organization can pick up the manual and be able to initiate and execute a response. The manual layout should be clear and procedures should be formulaic with easy to follow steps. Language should be as non-technical as possible so non-aviation personnel can easily follow the procedures.

 

While we always want to hope for the best, it’s important to have a solid and comprehensive plan in the event something unfortunate does happen. This way you can rest assured your entire organization has the tools necessary to respond to anything that may occur.

 

Are You In Compliance with 2017 IS-BAO Standards?

The New Year has brought a new IS-BAO Standard revision! For operators who are IS-BAO registered, who wish to be IS-BAO compliant, or who just want to ensure they adhere to a widely accepted safety standard, this is a perfect time to review your operation to see if you are in compliance with the updated protocols.

Here are two of the biggest changes of 2017.

1. Annual Review Process

The greatest addition to the IS-BAO Standard this year is a new protocol specifically requiring operators to “establish and maintain a process to ensure that changes to IS-BAO are verified, analyzed and incorporated into the organization’s processes, as applicable.”

While this process was implied in previous years with the compliance monitoring requirements, those protocols did not specifically reference IS-BAO. This year’s new standard heavily implies that operators should be conducting annual reviews of their processes as the IS-BAO Standards are revised every year.

While addressing the new protocol, operators should take the opportunity to review all of their manuals. Manuals should be reassessed to ensure all protocols are addressed and that the procedures described are true to the procedures actually being practiced. Any deficiencies or differences should be resolved through their manual revision or reissue process.

2. Consecutive Audit Limits

In previous years, there was no set limit on the number of consecutive audits a single auditor could perform for an operator, although operators were encouraged to use different auditors.

This year, a new audit procedure standard states that individuals are discouraged from conducting consecutive audits as the lead auditor and prohibited from performing three audits in a row, in any capacity, for an operator. However, this requirement may be waived under certain circumstances if it is deemed in the best interests of the International Standards Programme and approved by the IS-BAO Audit Manager.

The purpose of this change is to help ensure the validity of the audit process and to provide operators with a broader perspective of industry trends and practices and to ensure the IS-BAO does not devolve into a simple box-checking effort.

Operators due for an audit this year may want to start the process a little earlier to leave time for finding and vetting a new auditor.

 

This year’s ISBAO Standards changes center around the periodic review of procedures and documentation and bringing diverse points of view into the auditing process. 2017 can be a great year for operators to establish a regular review process of their documentation and to grow their network of potential auditors.