Is your aviation company going in for a safety audit? Times are going to be testing for your team as the outcomes can be totally unexpected. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare for a successful audit.
Aviation Analysts International is an aviation consultancy firm that helps businesses in aviation to get fruitful advice on safety, operations and compliance. We have experience in developing State Safety Programs for ICAO, and have active projects in 9 countries.
We enable aviation businesses to get ready for the safety audit and prepare them for success with our unique tools and pool of aviation experts. In this article, we’ll elucidate on some key strategies that’ll increase your probability for successful aviation safety audits.
Gather Reference Sources
The best way to start your audit preparation is to gather a pile of references that can help you know what to prepare for. These references could be anything from IATA’s published safety guidelines to your region’s regulatory authority’s safety manuals.
In most cases, the company contacts the auditor to get a copy of their guidelines so that they can be accurate with their preparations. Most guidelines are rules of thumb and are not set in stone. It could be the case that you fulfill the criteria with flying colors but the auditor denies to pass the audit for an unexplored reason.
Hence, preparing exhaustively will be a good idea. Some of the major publishers of safety guidelines are;
Know that your Safety Management System (SMS) will be under scrutiny. So, get as much help from your sources as you can based on SMS strengthening.
Get an Internal Audit Done
As a good measure, it’s advisable to get an internal audit done in advance to the real aviation safety audit. Your team can form a sub-team in itself which will carry out the audit.
The internal audit will be of great help in isolating potential loopholes in your SMS, that you don’t want to be highlighted on the day of the actual audit. It’ll expose the vulnerabilities nicely and give you time to fix them.
You can go through the various aspects of the SMS while self-auditing to gather as much data as you can on the improvements. Most international aviation consultants stress the importance of internal audits prior to an official audit, to significantly improve the chances of success.
Work on the Internal Audit Findings
Once you’ve performed an internal audit, you’ll be in a much better shape to go for the actual audit. The next step would be to work on the findings of the internal audit.
You can assign the members of the team with specific roles to make sure that the loopholes and stress areas are worked upon before the auditor arrives. This is also called Corrective Preventive Action which must be executed proactively in order to ensure a successful audit.
Update the Procedures
The credibility of an SMS is judged by the safety procedures it employs and how effective they are in ensuring an all-round safety environment. The auditor’s primary objective would be to check for the soundness of your safety procedures.
Safety procedures are a continuous development. There’s nothing like a perfect safety procedure that exists from day one, which is why they’re developed after years of experimentation. Therefore, you should really focus on updating the procedures as per the latest guidelines and your internal audit findings.
Some procedures pose a greater danger to the aviation safety than the others. You need to tackle the problem wisely and not by the book. The criticality of an audit procedure is subjective, which means that you should prioritize the amount of time you will spend on every procedure.
The procedures can be broadly classified into three categories;
- Tolerable risk
- Mitigable risk
- Intolerable risk
Tidying Up the SMS Database
The SMS database records a number of data points on the activities going in your organization. Being international aviation consultants, we have seen umpteen databases that were out of sync before the audit.
You should go the extra mile to make sure that the database is clean and instances of untidy reports, system failure logs, or incomplete procedure reports are handled well before the auditor arrives.
There could be similar reports and statistics that would not grace your SMS on the day of the audit. Hence, getting rid of such data from your database can be considered a necessary measure.
Further, you can elucidate the performance of your SMS with professionally designed visual graphics. Highlighting the key strengths of your SMS with proper documentation and imagery will add to the auditor’s confidence about your SMS.
Obviously, there are several things that we couldn’t cover in this article because we would have to dive very deep into the specifics. Our experience tells us that the above mentioned points would be a great starting point to prepare for a successful aviation safety audit.
In case you require expert consultation, you can get in touch with Aviation Analysts International and access our prime knowledge on the subject to enrich your SMS before the audit.
We have a team of qualified auditors ready to conduct Internal, External, Compliance, SMS and QMS audits for any aviation or associated organizations. These can be part audits or a full company audit as well as third party organizations.
We advise on how to set up audit programmers so your organization can then have the ability to self-audit. AAI has successfully completed many audits over numerous divisions of the aviation industry, which enables us to provide with fruitful advice for your Top aviation companies .