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Guest column by IAAFA

Picture of Captain Colin Locke

Captain Colin Locke

IAAFA (Inter American Air Forces Academy) - Chairman


Aviation auditing. A new way ahead?


AOC (Air Operator Certificate) holders are responsible for ensuring their aviation operations, rules and procedures fulfil the highest international standards, and are therefore subject to inspections like anyone else in the Aviation industry. But let’s face it; no one likes to be audited. I’m pretty sure that in the annals of compliance monitoring, no one has ever gleefully uttered the words “we’re going to be audited, let’s open a bottle of champagne.” Auditing can be a painful experience. You have a regulatory mandate (whether International, State or operational) and need to spend a chunk of your company budget on individuals whose only distinguishing skillset is to ‘pick fault’ in you and your organization. No one wants to be informed of regulatory non-compliance.

IAAFA’s mission is to “globally improve flight operational standards and safety through the promotion of auditing across corporate and commercial aviation”

Most senior executives tend to think of auditors as a regulatory ‘secret police’. A clandestine group that will threaten their very existence by ‘finding fault’ within their operation. Now I’m generalizing of course, but this perception is real and pervasive. Unfortunately, armed with this mentality, there is little desire to change anything other than the minimum required to comply with the regulations and audit findings. This leads to eventual compliance on completion of the audit, but with very little value added as a result. So, although there are many issues affecting aviation audits today, in my view there is only one major challenge and that is the ‘wrong perception’ of auditing, which can only be corrected through open discussion and education. If senior executives and subordinates can be shown that auditing is hugely beneficial and should be welcomed, then aviation in general would be an enormous step closer to being a safer and more productive environment.

Around the World, commercial and corporate audits continue all year round, yet the results, good and bad, are generally never known outside the board room. Experienced aviation professionals gather large amounts of flight and ground operational data. The sharing of that information, resolving mutual problems and improving the process, can only benefit the whole aviation community.

IAAFA (the International Association for Aviation Flight Auditors) was formed as a non-profit association for professionals and experts from commercial and corporate aviation auditing. We aim to discuss problems, common and specific to us all, and find generic solutions to de-identified problems and feed this back into the broad spectrum of aviation.

Our mission is to “globally improve flight operational standards and safety through the promotion of auditing across corporate and commercial aviation.”

We aim to

  • Unite Commercial and Corporate Auditors by sharing knowledge, skills and to develop the audit process
  • Enhance Flight Operations through our unique opportunity to observe without judgement
  • Add value to the Flight Operation by providing global data on audit findings
  • Promote and develop best audit practices across the sphere of Flight Operations
  • Advance aviation audit techniques by comparing and improving procedures across various domains
  • Bring together Commercial and Corporate aviation under one, de-identified, operational audit umbrella
  • Exchange information on the challenges and best practices experienced by auditors within their Internal Audit departments

Auditors are a great resource and can help organizations by acting as a direct, neutral link to the regulatory authorities. We can advise on upcoming regulatory changes and assist in their early implementation, as well as evaluate efficiency by helping to avoid duplication of effort. That should make AOC holders very happy because it will make their operation safer and ultimately save them money.


Captain Colin Locke
International Association for Aviation Flight Auditors / IAAFA



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