Despite its self-described practical and noble purpose, the ACSF audit has created heartburn among some members of the auditing community for obvious reasons. After all, if the new standard succeeds at reducing the number of audits a commercial operator must undergo, there will be considerably less business for the auditing industry.

Moreover, some auditors maintain the new audit is simply redundant. “We took a careful look at the ACSF standard and its auditing process and determined that the industry did not need it with IS-BAO having been out there since 2002,” ARGUS President and CEO Joe Moeggenberg said from his office in Cincinnati. “The standard already existed for the charter industry, and that was IS-BAO. It works extremely well with good audit standards, and it's an international program. If you're an international operator, you only need IS-BAO to comply with the ICAO requirement [for SMS, mentioned earlier]. If the operator does not operate internationally, then perhaps it should take a look at the ACSF standard, as it's good for domestic operations.”

ARGUS is a “huge” supporter of IS-BAO, Moeggenberg said, “because it is an international standard. As of last January [2009], if you are flying outside the United States - even to Canada - ICAO [Annex 6, Part 2] will require that you be able to prove you have an SMS in place, and the best way to comply with that is to be registered with IS-BAO. The member organizations of IBAC include every business aviation organization out there. So ICAO isn't going to approve another SMS program for business aviation without IBAC being involved.”

Before the current financial crisis took hold, Moeggenberg said, fractional ownership providers were the largest purchasers of charter, but now charter brokers and business flight departments are the biggest charter users. “Many of the major corporate flight departments are already on the IS-BAO registry or in the process of registration,” he said, and “We see a growing trend among corporations that clearly want to charter from operators that have demonstrated compliance with the same standard.”

It should be pointed out that ARGUS formerly held a contract with NetJets to audit the latter's backup charter providers, but NetJets has moved its charter vetting to the ACSF. Moeggenberg said his company, which is a registered IS-BAO auditor and one of eight companies worldwide qualified by IATA to conduct IOSA airline audits, has decided not to participate in the ACSF program.