Failing a FSDO or other operations audit – it’s every aviation organization’s nightmare. FBOs, flight schools, flying clubs, commercial services, and related ventures all face this common fear. At the least, failure means satisfying discrepancies. At the most, it can mean limiting or even closing operations.
So what can you do to prepare for a FSDO? In this article, we’ll examine some starting points for passing the audit with flying colors.
What is a FSDO Audit?
Let’s start with some basic definitions. An audit is an official inspection of an individual or organization’s accounts, typically by an independent body. It could be a financial audit by investors, a franchise audit, or, more common to aviation, an operations or safety audit. In each case, the auditor looks at your records to determine that you are in compliance with established rules.
The audit that many aviation businesses agonize about is the FSDO audit. Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASIs) from a regional Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) perform the audit, making sure that your business is in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) appropriate to your type of aviation operation. Typically, the auditors are designated as Operations Safety Inspectors (OSIs) for air carriers or general aviation. Within these groups, they often specialize as inspectors for avionics or mechanical maintenance. Their primary task is to determine if your operations and equipment are in compliance with mandated safety requirements.
Prepare by Being Proactive
How can you make sure that your aviation operation passes a FSDO audit? For starters, begin by keeping accurate records now. The best way to do that is to use a record-keeping system that is both designed to manage compliance data and is easy to use. If your record-keeping system is too complex or too laborious to update, your staff will not use it. This can cause your operations to fall out of compliance without you knowing about it – until someone else audits it. That’s too late to be proactive.
Online aviation record-keeping systems, such as SkyManager, include the data tools needed to keep accurate records and to easily comply with FSDO and other operations audits. Knowledge is power.
Run “Test Audits”
In addition to keeping accurate records, smart managers perform periodic “test audits” to determine if there are operations or safety factors that will appear if the ASI shows up. Are there maintenance discrepancies? Are aircraft and pilot records up to date? These are questions that not only the ASI needs to know, but you too (as an aviation business manager).
When running test audits (or real audits for that matter), security and data protection are important. You want to share valuable data internally on a need-to-know basis, but not with your competitors. A cloud-based and secure system, like SkyManager, offers critical data security that ensures you are always ready for your next FSDO or other operations audit.
Take the First Step
Secure and easy-to-use data tools can make the critical difference between failing a FSDO audit or passing it with flying colors. Take the first step by evaluating your options and exploring your organization’s needs.
Continue reading about staying in compliance.