The Civil Aviation Authority is about to begin auditing the holders of a Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO). This is causing a lot of comment on social media and so we thought we would give you our take on this latest development, to help you do well at audit.
What is an audit?
An audit is a process that allows the regulator or other authority to assess an operator's compliance with regulation, and where appropriate, to offer advice to improve the operation or suggest an alternative means of compliance (AMC). They will ask to see your records logbooks for all pilots and aircraft and will ask to see any of the documentation from previous flying activities and planning products which your Operations Manual (OM) dictates. They may also ask you questions about regulations, recent policy changes and the contents of notices. They may ask to see your aircraft and how it is maintained, examine footage taken during flights and chat to any staff you declare in your OM. Where discrepancies or infringements are found they will give guidance on how to regain compliance or give AMCs to help you achieve a safe operation in the shortest timeframe. In extreme cases they may suspend your PfCO until steps have been taken to regain compliance.
Should I be worried?
No, you should not be worried at all. At Flyby your OM is written to support a safe and compliant operation and you have been trained to operate within the Flyby Technology Just Culture. If you have done what it says in your OM you should actually welcome the opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism to your regulator. You will blitz it!
How do I make sure this goes well if I am chosen?
All you have to do is follow the instruction you were given when you invested so well in your training. There is a reason you chose Flyby, and that is so that this stuff goes well. Now is the time to take a look at what you do and compare it to the processes and procedures in the OM. This should only take an hour or so. Be honest and look at what you do and make any changes you think are necessary. You do not want a question like this...."If you are deciding to bypass this step can you tell us which other steps you no longer deem important?" That would be a bad moment we think you agree. Better to hear...."Thank you for letting us stop by and audit your operation, we only have some minor observations aimed at helping you improve your operation but we are content for your safe operation to continue flying." Just follow the processes and procedures in your operations manual, they will make sure that you pass the audit with flying colours.
I hear people say this is terrible
The people saying that are probably doing so because they fear what an audit will uncover. The easiest way to pass an audit is to be professional all of the time and you have been trained that way from the very start; and you have demonstrated those great behaviours to us. That is why we could pass you as a Flyby pilot in the first place. Passing our training was not the end, it was the end of the beginning. Another statement we see a lot is...."Here we go again, the guys doing it right getting penalised because of those who aren't." This is not true. The regulator audits every element of manned aviation and with full equivalence there is no reason why it should not do the same in the world of UAV operations. It makes perfect sense. At Flyby Technology we support our pilots, we want you to do well and that means being compliant. We spent a lot of time and effort working with you to get your OM just right for you. If you follow the steps, much like when learning a dance, you win the prize. A safe operation. Again it's a mindset thing. Some who are chosen for audit will be thinking they must pass the audit and then they can relax and it will be fine. That is not a sustainable approach. Much better to have a compliant operation ALL of the time and an audit is just the opportunity to get a fresh look from someone outside of Flyby. Someone who has your interests and those of the industry very much at heart. They are responsible for public safety but they are not as responsible for it as us pilots. Let's get this right and excel, because that is what we do as high achieving professionals. It is the Flyby Technology way. We don't know when they will be starting, so let's be ready from today!