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IOSA - Leaving Nothing to Chance

The IATA Operational Safety Audit is a cornerstone of the industry safety strategy. An enhanced version will build on the excellent safety results in 2012

There was not a single Western-built jet hull loss in 2012 for carriers on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry. The total accident rate (all aircraft types) for IOSA registered carriers was 4.3 times better than the rate for non-IOSA carriers (0.96 vs. 4.11).

The incredible achievement builds on previous record years for aviation safety. But, to emphasize that safety will always be aviation’s top priority, IATA is rolling out Enhanced IOSA. Guenther Matschnigg, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Safety, Operations and Infrastructure, says Enhanced IOSA will be another positive step in improving safety for airlines.

Since the introduction of IOSA in 2003, standards have continuously improved, adapting to regulations and lessons learned from the more than 1,525 audits performed by the audit organizations.

“We certainly achieved our goal to improve safety and to reduce the number of redundant audits,” stresses Matschnigg. “However, what we wanted was to move from one audit every two years to continuous safety performance monitoring.”

Enhanced IOSA will also assist airlines in more effectively implementing ICAO’s Safety Management System (SMS) standards into their daily operations. While the existing audit already contains all SMS provisions in the IOSA Standards and Recommended Practices (ISARPs), Enhanced IOSA will ensure these provisions are put to good use. And it will underpin an airline’s conformity with the standards between audits.

What’s new?

Enhanced IOSA is incorporating four new elements, based on the proven benefits of the IOSA program

Continuous conformity with the ISARPs

  • Under Enhanced IOSA, the airline will conduct internal quality assurance activities against the ISARPs during the 24 months between two IOSA audits.

A focus on implementation

  • IOSA offers a snapshot assessment of documentation and implementation of the ISARPs. Enhanced IOSA is a moving picture and will ensure the ISARPs are engrained in day-to-day safety performance. 

A strengthening of internal quality assurance

  • Ongoing internal assessments of the ISARPs by appropriately trained and qualified auditors will allow the airline to further strengthen its internal oversight activities. This will demonstrate the reliability and integrity of the airline’s internal quality assurance program. In effect, greater responsibility is being handed back to the airline.

Further standardization of IOSA procedures

  • Auditor actions are a series of statements for each ISARP, which will assist in standardizing auditing principles and techniques throughout the industry.

The elements have been applied and evaluated in proof-of-concept workshops and tested during live trial audits. Ten airlines underwent beta tests with Enhanced IOSA.

“I fully support Enhanced IOSA, but caution that, in the early phases, this is not a cost-neutral exercise,” says Steve Dickson, Senior Vice President, Flight Operations, Delta Air Lines. “It cannot simply be done by the organization’s audit department.”

Airline preparation

For an airline that already fully conforms to IOSA standards, the enhanced version will bring a few changes. Airlines will need to demonstrate continuous compliance with the IOSA standards throughout the two years, for example. They will need to release a conformance report containing internal audit results prior to the IOSA audit.

IATA is developing a transition plan to support the IOSA carriers. This includes developing procedures, training, and strengthening the quality departments.

Also, Auditor Actions, a tool used by IOSA auditors, will be made available to the airlines to support them in assessing the ISARPs internally. IATA is also planning a Partnership for Quality initiative to support airlines’ quality departments in adapting to Enhanced IOSA.

And help is at hand for airlines and regions needing extra assistance. IATA will conduct regional Enhanced IOSA workshops in targeted areas to assist with compliance. All airlines will be invited to participate with dates and locations to be announced in due course.

Enhanced IOSA will benefit airlines by providing a constant monitored oversight of their operation. When 24/7-compliant with Enhanced IOSA, the bi-annual check by the audit organizations can be reduced.

“The key message is that there is no complacency when it comes to safety,” says Matschnigg. “The industry has an incredible safety record, but we constantly strive for an even safer industry. Enhanced IOSA, through its internal continuous monitoring, will support this goal.”

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