Completing an Audit - Break a leg!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Since Nick broke his foot a few weeks ago, life has been a little bit exhausting. Since he has a cast on he has not been able to drive anywhere himself which means that others need to drive him to and from work and if we want to do anything when he is home that I need to be the one that drives.
This loss of independence has been difficult for Nick but in some ways it may have been a blessing in disguise, because for the last several months each base in Congo has been working very hard on 2 things 

1. Implementing new aviation manuals and procedures 
2. Preparation for a 3rd party audit of our operations. 

Since he has been a little bit more bound in one place he has been able to spend a lot of time working of finishing up all the work needed to accomplish these 2 things.

So life has been full of organizing, checking off check lists, doing little things that fell behind in the greater needs we face everyday. Even though these tasks seem menial compared to a lot of the really impactful flights we do here, it is no less important.

Many of the organizations that we fly for require high standards from the organizations that they let their staff fly with. And they also are wanting organizations to be using ICAO standards. ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization, countries in Europe and Canada already use ICAO however American companies use FAA. In some ways ICAO is more detailed and strict but in a lot of ways its just different. So our manuals that we have been working on are ICAO compliant and its been a lot of hard work moving from a FAA mindset to ICAO. Lucky for Nick he was trained as a pilot already under ICAO in Canada and also has his FAA Airline Transport Pilot Licence, so has a good grasp of both systems. We were hoping to attain a Congo AOC (air operators certificate) by completing integration with these aviation manuals but it looks like Congo Civil Aviation is not giving AOCs to anyone at present, but we did recently receive a new authorization that better fits what we are doing here in Congo.

World Food Program Logistics Cluster Meeting

Then we have been working on passing an audit from Bureau Veritas, a worldwide testing, inspection and certification provider. This has been a lot of work... because, well, we live in Congo and because this an evolution in the manner of way things had been done here. For example we needed a certificate to show the auditor we have authorization to maintain our aircraft. We had done everything needed to get that done, however when we contacted our local civil aviation they said it was all arranged and we didn't have to worry about it until it needed to be renewed but that they would not give us a certificate.
The Lubumbashi Caravan in Uganda for Maintenance

Nick was able to travel around with the Auditor from Uganda (where some our MAF Congo aircraft do their maintenance), then to Lubumbashi (one of our bases of operations in the south of Congo) and back to Kinshasa. It was a week full of paper work, looking up references and analyzing our operation here in Congo.

I am so excited to say that thanks everyones hard work we passed the audit in the 'yellow', which means that we have a good list of things that we need to work on but that we are approved for this organization to fly with us!!

A lot of Nicks job right now is not glamorous, he spends a good amount of time in the office talking with tax collectors, officials, different organizations figuring out how we can partner with them but what he does is so important for our operations to continue in DRC.

Nick finally got his cast off yesterday and is now working on slowly gaining back strength in his leg, he would like to quickly get back to flying, driving, playing soccer and of course being able to carry our kids in his arms.