Since the introduction of the EASA legislation and regulations, your Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has decided to audit drone operators on a regular basis. A date is agreed upon for this visit, during which CAA will come by to carry out the audit. Various topics are discussed during this audit. This includes checking documents, viewing flight logs, asking function-specific questions, et cetera. In this blog, we’ll discuss this in more detail so that you’re always ready for an audit.
Why are the audits done?
Audits are common in the world of (manned) aviation, without them aviation would be a lot less safe. It’s important to understand what happens in practice, what works and what doesn’t. They’re always looking for how the legislation and regulations can be further improved. This has been done for manned aviation for decades, but is still fairly new for unmanned aviation. The CAA also comes by to learn for itself. This is to see how, for example, the approved procedures in the manual are carried out in practice.
What happens during an audit?
During an audit, inspectors from the CAA visit the site. During this visit, they check if the processes and procedures in the manual are carried out as described. They’ll check the documents (such as training and insurance certificates), view the flight logs and ask substantive questions to the responsible persons. For this reason, the people with the following positions must be present:
- Accountable Manager
- Flight Operations Manager
- Safety Manager
The CAA will try to do an audit when a flight is planned. This way they can see how it’s implemented and if everything is going according to procedure. If it’s not possible to plan this during a flight, they’ll check the most recently operated flight or ask you to plan a (potential) flight.
What questions can you expect?
The questions asked by the CAA will concern various subjects. The most important questions will be about the content of the manual. They’ll check if you know how to apply the manual in practice, and if you know the appropriate protocols and procedures. The questions may also concern EASA legislation and the conversion from national to European legislation.
Each position within the organization also comes with a different set of questions, as each position also has a different set of tasks. The questions will thus be tailored to the tasks the person handles. For the Safety Manager this can, for example, concern how incidents and accidents are dealt with, when and how this is reported and whether this is done in accordance with the guidelines of European legislation.
Which documents are checked?
During the audit, the CAA will check for the operational obligations. This includes the following documents:
- Emergency Response Plan
- Operational Plan(s)
- Checklists, Operational Manuals (e.g. A and B)
- Flight Logs
It’s also important to have the management of (internal) incidents in order during an audit. This includes noting which incidents and accidents have occurred, and how these were dealt with (implementation of improvements).
Finally, they’ll check if the maintenance of your drones is up-to-date. For example, what maintenance has been carried out in the past, whether the drones that will fly are current, and what maintenance is scheduled for the future.
How do you ensure that you are always ready for an audit?
Make sure you always have all the necessary documents in order, keeping them up-to-date will save you a lot of work. The workflow within the AirHub software ensures that many of the necessary documents are ready for you. Everything comes together in one organized and structured place. From the automatic logging of flight to having all your checklists and documents in order.
As soon as the documents have to be transferred to the CAA, you can export everything to a PDF document with the click of a button.
If you have any additional questions after reading this blog, make sure to reach out to us! Fill in the contact form or schedule a demo if you’re curious about what our software can mean for your drone operations.