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The Importance of Internal Safety Audits in Aviation

Knowledge    /    June 15, 2022

In the aviation industry, continuous auditing is a cornerstone of operational management. Generally spoken, we distinguish between external audits and internal safety audits in aviation. While the need for external third-party audits is obvious, what do internal audits mean and why is it important to conduct them?
“Safety first” is a wise goal for any aviation organization and should be considered in all business activities and decisions. To ensure that operational safety is at the top of the corporate agenda and that all necessary measures, programs, and practices are aligned to contribute to achieving our safety goals, it is important to regularly review internal processes and procedures.

Internal safety auditing is therefore one of the most effective tools for uncovering latent weaknesses and deficiencies and identifying opportunities for improvement in our organizations. It helps detect hidden threats and operational risks that could otherwise be overlooked. In an emergency, undiscovered deficiencies and inappropriate actions could lead to a major safety event with significant consequences.

As part of proactive risk management, internal safety audits enable ineffective procedures and processes to be corrected and improved through regular checks and assessments so that the right activities can be set in the event of an emergency. Internal safety audits in aviation thus serve as quality controls in which business processes are evaluated against defined standards.

Key Steps for Conducting a Successful Internal Safety Audit

  • Step 1: Prepare the Audit: “who, what and where.”
    A good audit preparation is key to your audit performance. Before beginning an audit, it is essential to create an audit plan in which you identify the right people to conduct the audit, as well as the scope and objectives of the audit to be performed. A review of the applicable standards, guidelines or checklists for the processes or areas to be examined can be helpful, as can the results of earlier audits.
  • Step 2: Conduct the Audit
    The goal of internal audits is to promote improvement and track progress toward your company’s operational and safety goals. During the audit, written procedures are compared to actual activities and practices, and any deviations from established procedures and observations of actual working conditions are documented.
  • Step 3: Create an Audit Report
    Upon completion of the audit, the auditor or the audit team summarizes the findings in a clear and concise audit report. This audit report should contain all information and cite both well-functioning processes and problem areas. In order to enable a proper follow-up of the audit and initiate necessary improvements and corrective actions, the latter are addressed in the “Recommended Actions” of the report, which provides a clear overview of the specific areas for improvement.
  • Step 4: Set Corrective Actions
    After assessing the status quo of existing processes and practices, areas identified for improvement must be followed up to ensure that the results are adequately addressed and the necessary actions are taken to correct existing problems. A corrective action plan summarizes your findings in a written framework so that the problem areas, as well as the corresponding corrective actions can be systematically tracked and prioritized, paving the way for the next steps in operational improvement.

Internal Safety Audits with iQSMS
In aviation, effective safety auditing requires well-trained auditors, but even more so, open-minded process owners who take the problems identified during audits seriously and implement effective corrective actions within the designated timeframe.
We know from experience that this can mean a lot of work, which is significantly simplified using a convenient tool that allows you to manage and further process your results quickly.

The iQSMS Quality Module supports you in all steps of the audit process and improves the efficiency of your team as well as the compliance with internal safety standards and regulatory requirements by:

  • Eliminating tedious paperwork
  • Supporting you in managing your audit plan
  • Allowing to conduct audits online or offline
  • Streamlining the management and implementation of corrective actions

In order to start processing your findings and initiate the appropriate corrective actions, it is important to have a good overview of the status of the findings raised in the audit.

Findings Overview
With iQSMS we focus on providing auditees with a meaningful overview of the status of their findings through an intuitive and user-friendly system. We aim to minimize the time and effort necessary for users who may only respond to findings once or twice a year, so that they do not have to undergo special training in order to process their findings. Simple and intuitive interfaces with an effective findings overview are key to us.
Auditors all know how difficult it sometimes is to obtain signatures on audit reports. Moreover, they may not be in the office regularly as they are also busy with flying assignments. That is why we have integrated an electronic signature process into IQSMS, which allows all parties to sign the audit report with one click. Printing and manually signing reports is no longer necessary. In addition, this also ensures that the next time you have an external audit, it will be much easier for you to prove to your external auditors that all your reports are signed as required by your policy.