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Safety Conscious – a Way of Life

“Clean your room!” “It’s my room, and I’m OK with it as is.”

No matter – once a week until I left for college, I straightened, dusted, and swept until I’d checked every box on the list that defined a “Clean Room According to Mom.”

The world changed freshman year, as a new motivation for cleanliness was added – a roommate, whose standards differed from mine, and whose parents were regular – and sometimes unscheduled – visitors. The checklist had changed, and the goal became more complex: meeting outsiders’ standards. And so, “picking up daily,” at least, became a routine.

Fast forward to my entry into the Fixed Base Operations (FBO) segment of business aviation. And not just any FBO, but one recognized as the industry leader. Now I shared my workplace with my customers: you and your fellow business jet owners and flight crews. Cleanliness was no longer optional – it was mandatory.

No more daily or weekly checklist – cleanliness now was a way of life. Spot something on the floor? Pick it up. Magazines and newspapers in disarray in the passenger lounge? Straighten them. See something on the ramp? Dispose of it, before it’s sucked into a customer’s jet engine.

And don’t forget to wipe down the sink after washing your hands – the next one to use it likely will be your customer. Those FBO operations required yet another change of mindset, to one of constant vigilance, so our facility always was “company ready.”

Aviation safety requires the same mindset. Operational safety requires more than a checklist – it demands constant vigilance.

That vigilance is one of the goals of the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), developed by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC). As Pete Agur describes in “Are You ‘Safe’?” the IS-BAO Safety Management System (SMS) requires that your flight department audit its operation, define its tolerance for risk, and then tailor its SMS around that tolerance.

And while FBO cleanliness certainly is important, its operational safety is critical, and often not visible. IBAC now has defined a safety standard for ground handling. Its International Standard for Business Aviation Handlers (IS-BAH) provides guidance for an FBO to develop and install its own SMS. While relatively new, the safety culture engendered by IS-BAH is becoming an important criterion in selecting a destination FBO, as noted in “Three Top Criteria for Choosing an FBO.”

Safety consciousness is not just a “best practice” – it’s a way of life, and you are its leader and standard bearer.

Thanks for reading! BAA

Publisher of Business Aviation Advisor, has nearly 50 years in business aviation including executive positions at aircraft management/charter and ground services companies. He is a past director of the NATA and Corporate Angel Network.


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