August 29, 2011
By Ian J. Twombly
The Flight School Association of North America, or FSANA, announced recently the introduction of its national flight school accreditation program. The program is intended to gives those schools that go through the process a means of showing their financial strength and safety record compared to the competition.
The accreditation process includes a self-evaluation, an on-site visit performed by volunteer inspectors, and a hearing of an accreditation commission in which the applicant must be present. Each award of accreditation is good for three years. According to FSANA, accreditation is awarded based on a set of seven criteria. They are: safety, security, risk management, business practices, finance and accounting, education, and customer satisfaction.
Each of the criteria come with specific requirements. Schools must have a business plan, follow standard accounting procedures, have a security plan, handle students’ money properly, and follow standard customer service practices, for example.
According to FSANA President Robert Rockmaker, the need for an accreditation program was obvious. “The business models at the schools were not practicing best practices,” he said. “For anyone who picks up the standards document, it will really get them thinking.”
Rockmaker said one of the key goals of the program is to help accredited schools secure financing, although no such opportunity exists yet. He said he expects 250 to 300 schools to be accredited for in process of accreditation in the next three to five years.
The cost to apply is $4,000 for FSANA members, and $5,000 for nonmembers. Application deadlines are twice a year, and the first is October 1.
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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