Including Safety in Your FBO Selection

Aircraft operators consider a number of factors when choosing an FBO: available facilities, customer service, fuel cost, hangar availability, location and fees. As you read that list, one important item is absent – safety. A recent study by the VanAllen Group found that ground incidents accounted for “the largest source of [insurance] claims payments.”

Though safety is not on the list above, the bottom line is that aircraft operators care about safety in all they do. In fact, a focus on FBO safety is considered a given expectation. Think about the last time you went to a restaurant; did you spend any time thinking about whether the food you consumed would give you food poisoning? Probably not, and this is not because you don’t care about food safety, but rather because you assume that restaurant is focusing on preventing food borne illness. The same is true with FBO selection, an FBO with quality facilities, great customer service, and competitive pricing must be doing the right things when it comes to safety, correct?

FBO safety is also challenging to assess from afar. How can a dispatcher, scheduler or flight coordinator effectively evaluate an FBO’s safety program during a phone call? Challenges aside, with ground handling incidents being a leading cause of aircraft damage, our industry has determined that aircraft operators should be even more proactive when it comes to ensuring ground safety of aircraft at remote locations. Standards like the International Standard – Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) and the Air Charter Safety Foundation’s (ACSF) Industry Audit Standard (IAS) both include requirements for reviewing ground handling safety while aircraft are away from home. So what can an aircraft operator do?

First, we must understand the basis for ground handling safety in our industry. In the U.S. ground handling is governed by industry standard. Some of those standards include Airlines for America’s (A4A) Spec 103 (fuel quality), NATA’s Safety 1st Program (operational safety training) and the International Standard – Business Aircraft Handling (safety management system (SMS) and standard practice). When implemented and rigorously adhered to, these standards form a solid base that aircraft operators can rely on as an indicator that FBOs are taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the aircraft, passengers and crew they handle.

Asking “Is your FBO IS-BAH registered and Safety 1st qualified?” is the quickest and simplest means to assess the safety commitment of an FBO. Currently over 600 locations meet the Safety 1st qualification requirements and over 50 FBOs have achieved IS-BAH registration with even more on the way during Q1 of this year. Of course, what is done with this information is up to each individual aircraft operator. Likely, it will be used in combination with other factors. Even though it may not be a sole decision making criterion, there is no replacement for checking an FBO’s Safety 1st and IS-BAH registration status. In fact, aircraft operators can verify Safety 1st & IS-BAH status of FBOs around the world by visiting A global map utilizing the familiar Google Maps platform displays every FBO in the world that is Safety 1st qualified or IS-BAH registered. The map is searchable by airport, city, state and FBO name and provides a quick way to verify the status of any FBO you might choose to visit.

Ground handling safety is important to FBOs and it is important to you as an aircraft operator. Taking a few moments in your FBO evaluation process to ask, “Are you IS-BAH registered and Safety 1st qualified?” and verifying that status on provides you a critical decision point in your FBO selection process.

Republished from Business Air’s Charter Today (Q1 2017)