Alexandria, VA, September 16, 2009 - An article in USA Today claims to expose failures in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight of on-demand charter operators. Citing six fatal accidents over a six-year period, the article states that "aviation regulators have missed blatant pilot training violations, failed to identify illegal charter flights and allowed planes to fly that should have been grounded."
The Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) continues to promote and enhance the safety of on-demand charter operators. In doing so, the ACSF reminds the public and the industry of several resources available to combat illegal charter operations and enhance safety.
The National Air Transportation Association's Illegal Charter Hotline was established to aid the public in reporting illegal charter activities. Anyone can call the toll-free number, 888-SKY-FLT1 (888-759-3581), and report suspicious charter activity. The number is available 24 hours a day, and callers may leave a message to receive a call back if the Hotline agent is unavailable. Reports made to the hotline are forwarded to FAA Headquarters for investigation and follow-up.
The ACSF has developed and implemented the Industry Audit Standard (IAS) program specifically for on-demand operators. The audit program not only evaluates an operator for regulatory compliance, it also incorporates evaluation of the operator's Safety Management System (SMS). SMS is a key goal to improving safety, and this is why the IAS requires operators to adopt, implement and show continuous safety management improvement.
With the ACSF IAS, the charter consumer can be assured that audited and registered operators are compliant with the highest standards of safety and compliance. By the end of the year, the ACSF will have completed 25 audits and many more are expected next year. Customers should look for the ACSF IAS-registered logo and encourage their preferred charter provider to participate in the program. Validation of an operator's status can be done easily through the ACSF IAS Registry at www.acsf.aero/registry.
For further information on the IAS and audit process, please visit www.acsf.aero/audit. Operators wishing to initiate the audit process should contact Russ Lawton at 1-888-SAFE-135 (888-723-3135).
The ACSF has also released AVSiS, a revolutionary safety event reporting and tracking system specifically for the on-demand air charter industry and shared aircraft ownership programs. AVSiS, or Aviation Safety Information System, is a powerful software program that collects detailed safety event data for analysis, response deployment and success measurement, and provides a tool for accounting for the cost savings realized by interventions.
To encourage the wide-spread use of this safety-enhancing tool, the ACSF has made the program available free-of-charge to all Part 135 on-demand operators and Part 91K fractional program managers. Using AVSiS, or similar tools, to collect safety event information is critical to safety management system development and can also serve as the foundation for an FAA Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP).
"We strongly encourage all Part 135 operators to report illegal charter activity immediately using the 1-888-SAFE-135 toll free number," stated ACSF President James K. Coyne. "The resources the Air Charter Safety Foundation provides to the Part 135 community are all invaluable assets towards ensuring safety. While the USA Today article focuses on those very few, limited operations that should certainly be called into question, the on-demand air charter industry, with its stringent safety regulations covered under CFR Part 135, remains one of the safest ways to travel."