Handling With Care

IS-BAH Means Safe and Sound on the Ground

By Bob Schick, TAC Air Director of Safety and Risk Management

As a BizAv owner/operator, you value your safety and that of your passengers, crew, and aircraft, in the air and on the ground. So when selecting an FBO in 2019, find those ground service providers who share your commitment to ground safety by looking for IS-BAH™ Registered Fixed Base Operators (FBOs). 


The International Standard for Business Aircraft Handlers (IS-BAH) is a program first rolled out in 2014 by the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC). Based on the safety management system principles (SMS) adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization and other stakeholders, IS-BAH is an industry-developed set of standards of best practices for business aviation ground handlers.


Incorporating many guidelines from NATA’s Ground Audit Standards, as well as each FBO’s own best practices and institutional knowledge, IS-BAH registration allows ground handlers and operators to meet the upcoming international standards requirements. Registration provides operators like you with objective assurance that the FBO you patronize, whether in the U.S. or abroad, continually operates at the highest standards of safety. 


In short, an IS-BAH registered FBO:

  • Creates a written manual of documented procedures
  • Trains all employees to follow these procedures 
  • Conducts internal auditing and ongoing evaluations to ensure the procedures are followed uniformly and correctly.


IS-BAH registration covers procedures such as:

  • Specified, periodic training for ground handler service providers 
  • Implementing a Safety Management System (See “Are You ‘Safe’?” BAA March/April 2017)
  • Establishing/implementing emergency and contingency plans
  • Security in and around the facility at all times
  • Appropriate record keeping and company documentation
  • Organization and personnel requirements
  • Occupational health and safety and environmental management
  • Proper handling of passengers, baggage, dangerous goods, and non-hazardous cargo
  • Airside operations, including safe parking of aircraft, and
  • Ground Support Equipment maintenance requirements.
  • Certificates of registration are issued by IBAC to FBOs that have successfully demonstrated conformity to the industry’s best practice standards through completion of a three-stage external audit by an IBAC accredited auditor.


Stage 1 confirms that the FBOs SMS infrastructure is established and that safety management activities are appropriately targeted. FBOs with an SMS program to identify hazards and reduce the level of risk associated with ground service operations are more likely to have robust quality control processes to maintain fuel supply quality as well as documented procedures and training programs for towing, deicing, and so on (see “Getting To Zero,” BAA November/December 2014).


Stage 2 ensures that safety management activities are incorporated into every facet of daily base activities, and that safety risks are being tracked and managed effectively with processes like Safety Performance Indicators (SPIs) and Safety Performance Targets (SPTs) scorecards. 


Stage 3 verifies that safety management activities are fully integrated into the operator’s business and that a positive safety culture is being sustained. IS-BAH registered FBOs are required to have their own internal operating standards, and to update such standards on a regular basis. This ensures that they meet evolving industry safety standards, and that they meet and exceed your own flight operation’s safety requirements. It is important to have a corporate safety culture that all employees, from the tug operator to the customer service representative at the front counter to the CEO, embrace and practice daily.


When planning your next trip, check the IBAC website for a list to help you identify IS-BAH registered FBOs throughout the world. In 2019, it is easier than ever to identify a safe, reputable place to have your aircraft serviced. BAA


Bob Schick
Bob Schick is the Director of Safety and Risk Management for TAC Air. He successfully led TAC Air through the IS-BAH™ Stage 2 registration process. He also is the current NATA Safety Committee Chairman.


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