Where can an NAA find good Flight Operations Inspectors?

In order to comply with ICAO guidance national aviation authorities must recruit experienced Airline Captains as Flight Operations Inspectors (FOIs). The requirements mean that candidates will typically have more than 15 year’s airline experience and should also have held management or training appointments. Most authorities are not able to meet the salary expectations of such candidates. The skills required of a Flight Operations Inspector are different to those required of a pilot so candidates have to be selected carefully and provided with additional training. In order to maintain their pilot qualifications, FOIs need to complete regular training and checking, which is expensive. If FOIs are allowed to fly part-time to maintain these qualifications, then this reduces the time available for the FOI task and creates a potential conflict of interest if the operator with which the FOI is flying is under the oversight of the same authority.

For these reasons and others, the majority of aviation authorities worldwide struggle to recruit, train and retain good FOIs. This is frequently raised as an issue during ICAO and EASA inspections of national aviation authorities. Even where authorities do employ FOIs there may not be an ideal match between their qualifications and the tasks to be performed, especially where there are a variety of different operators and aircraft types under the supervision of the authority. McKechnie Aviation has a solution to ensure that an aviation authority has access to the expertise required to conduct certification and oversight activities without the burden of recruiting, training and retaining qualified Flight Operations Inspectors.

McKechnie Aviation can provide appropriately qualified FOIs to an agreed schedule to conduct oversight tasks. The Inspectors will be current pilots or instructors who will maintain their qualifications by operating on a part-time basis. McKechnie Aviation will arrange for the recruitment, initial training, recurrent training and standardisation of the inspectors and will ensure that their qualifications match the required tasks in terms of aircraft type, route knowledge and (if applicable) training experience. McKechnie Aviation will liaise with operators to schedule in-flight and training inspections in accordance with a schedule agreed in advance with the aviation authority. Following each inspection, a report will be provided to the authority with details of what was observed and recommendations for findings of non-compliance. The authority will remain responsible for issuing certifications, raising findings and for any associated regulatory action. McKechnie Aviation will be able to provide assistance with follow-up action such as making recommendations in relation to corrective and preventive action and will ensure that there is no conflict of interest between inspecting tasks and the FOI’s other assignments.

This outsourcing of inspecting tasks is anticipated in ICAO documents. Document 8335 states: “the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) could consider the employment of a competent commercial organization to supply the necessary qualified personnel to perform the required inspection functions in an advisory capacity to the CAA.” European regulations go further by introducing the concept of a ‘Qualified Entity’; “a body which may be allocated a specific certification task by, and under the control and the responsibility of, the Agency or a national aviation authority”.