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International Air Transport Association sets new measures for cargo handling audit


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched a new programme to raise global standards in cargo handling operations and audit.

The Smart Facility Operational Capacity (SFOC) programme, with two components, aims to reduce audit complexity and duplication for cargo handling facilities.

The first component, being the Smart Facility Operational Capacity Audit Certification or SFOC Audit Certification, aims to provide airlines with the assurance that SFOC Certified facilities are adhering to IATA’s Resolutions and Recommended Practices in cargo handling and with IATA’s Cargo Handling Manual (ICHM).

It is estimated 360,000 days per year are wasted yearly on redundant cargo handling audits. The SFOC Audit Certification programme aims to reduce redundant efforts across the industry by 50 per cent through removing the need to validate generic cargo operation procedures.


The Audit Reduction Commitment (ARC) is an industry pledge to reduce audits. Airlines participating in the SFOC programme will undertake a gap analysis to determine which audit standards will not need to be assessed for SFOC certified facilities. The revised audit scope is then defined through the ARC.

Individual airlines will provide clear visibility on the potential audit reduction for SFOC certified facilities, ensuring there is a solid mechanism to eliminate redundant audits.

IATA’s Global Head of Cargo, Glyn Hughes, said auditing remains critical to ensure the global standards that underpin the safe and efficient operations in the aviation industry.

“IATA’s strong capabilities in auditing have been proven in the successful IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and CEIV programmes. The SFOC programme will bring this expertise to general cargo handling operations,” he said.

Singapore will be the initial focal point for this important new initiative. SATS Limited and Singapore Airlines are the first organisations to join the Smart Facility Operational Capacity (SFOC) programme. SATS is the first Cargo Handling Facility to receive the new SFOC Audit Certification and Singapore Airlines is the first airline to join the programme by signing the ARC.

Senior Vice President Cargo, Singapore Airlines, Chin Yau Seng, said the SFOC certification, which had been worked closely with IATA to refine, allows them to sharpen the focus of the audits of their handling agents.

“This zooms in on SIA – specific procedures, and enabling even greater emphasis on safety and security. The combination of both the SFOC audits and our own audits serves to provide a comprehensive picture of our service partners’ capabilities and operational quality, while improving audit efficiency for us and our service partners,” Seng said.

CEO, SATS Gateway Services, Yacoob Piperdi, added that SATS was delighted to be the world’s first cargo ground handler worldwide to achieve the IATA SFOC Certification.

“We are delighted to have Singapore Airlines as our partner and the first carrier to commit to ARC. The certification affirms SATS’ consistent standards and the quality of our service. We hope other airlines will follow this example to realise the SFOC programme’s full audit efficiencies for the entire industry,” Piperdi said.

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