You’ll probably be reading a lot of these over the next few years.  An integral part of a PhD degree is the dissertation, a paper that should present some new research in the field of the PhD.  The Department of Doctoral Studies at Embry-Riddle has been very aggressive in focusing us on the dissertation, even as we began the program.  This orientation is a sound one in my opinion since there are many PhD “ABDs” out there – “all but dissertation” – which is essentially no degree at all.  By focusing our attention on the dissertation from the beginning, as research opportunities present themselves in the various courses along the way, we can gear our research topics toward our dissertation and continue to refine our thinking.   My current course is DAV 733, Globalization and the Aviation Environment and we’re required to write a 15-20 page research paper on a topic related to the course objectives as part of the course requirements.  The topic I’ve chosen for the research paper will lay the foundation for my dissertation and focuses on the International Standard for Business Aviation Operations or IS-BAO as it is more commonly know.

The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) has been in existence for almost exactly ten years, having been formally introduced to the business aviation community at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibit (EBACE) in Geneva, May 2002 (IBAC, 2012b).  As of May 1, 2012, there were 646 IS-BAO registrants in some 39 countries, 184 of which are commercial operators and the remainder of which are private or corporate operators (J. Sheehan, personal communication, May 24, 2012; IBAC, 2012c).  According to the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) which established it, IS-BAO was developed “by the industry for the benefit of the industry. It is a code of best practices designed to help flight departments worldwide achieve a high level of safety and professionalism” (IBAC, 2012b).

While standardized procedures and pseudo-regulatory limitations are part of the IS-BAO standard, the core element is the safety management system (SMS), a process designed to effectively manage safety risks in the organization (IBAC, 2012c).  If we accept the supposition of Stolzer, Halford and Goglia (2008), that to be effective, an SMS must be applied in a safety culture environment, we could draw the follow-on conclusion that if an aviation organization has effectively adopted and implemented IS-BAO, a safety culture environment should be in place.  According to Bill Stine, the Director of Operations for the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), that conclusion is precisely the case:

“(IS-BAO) is a process built around establishing a true participatory safety culture within an operation. It does include all the requirements of a formal safety management system–an SMS–but IS-BAO goes beyond, by causing a company to develop a positive, non-punitive, safety culture with these industry-based best practices to support it”  (Sheridan, 2011).

Hence, we arrive at the premise for aviation organizations that if IS-BAO, then safety culture.  But is that the actual reality or merely the expected outcome?

My goal with this research paper is to take the pulse of the industry and document what the industry believes.  My guess is that industry does, in fact, believe that if IS-BAO, then safety culture.  The problem though is that a true safety culture, as we will discuss, requires “buy-in” from everyone in an aviation organization to function.  And there are many in the “rank and file” of business aviation who aren’t buying in.  But looking at that will be the next step in the process.  Stay tuned . . .

References

IBAC. (2012a). Understanding SMS » international business aviation council Retrieved 5/26/2012, from http://www.ibac.org/is_bao/understanding-sms

IBAC. (2012b). Introducing IS-BAO. Retrieved 5/26/2012, from http://www.ibac.org/is_bao

IBAC. (2012c). IS-BAO registered operators » international business aviation council Retrieved 5/26/2012, from http://www.ibac.org/is_bao/registered-operators-2

Sheridan, J. (2011, April). IBAC: IS-BAO proves valuable investment. Aviation International News Online.  Retrieved 5/26/2012 from http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/aviation-international-news/2011-03-28/ibac-bao-proves-valuable-investment

Stolzer, A. J., Halford, C. D., & Goglia, J. J. (2008). Safety management systems in aviation (Kindle ed.). Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate.