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In the beginning of 2002, the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan launched a major project to upgrade its system and services using the ISO 9001-2000 quality management system standard. CAA decided to test the waters by initially implementing the ISO-9000 standards at its three regulatory departments i.e. Airworthiness, Flight Standards and Personnel Licensing. From here onwards the three regulatory departments were collectively referred to as CAAFLA. This was also in keeping with the expectations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which is increasingly interested in concepts like improved internal communication, self audits, corrective action process approach and system effectiveness.

The Airworthiness Director Engr Ghulam Murtaza was appointed as the "Quality Management Representative" for the system, while a senior manager from each department was nominated as the Deputy Quality Management Representative The ISO-9001 standard frequently highlight the difference between performing a service and performing it effectively and efficiently. This meant re-looking at the existing process and re-engineering them to bring about improvement. It was during one of these exercises that it was realized that work would be meaningful only if it added value to a process.

A lot of senior officers finally appreciated the fact that much of their time was spent in providing information which could be easily provided through web sites, brochures and a helpful reception desk. CAAFLA therefore decided to adopt all required measures to facilitate customers in getting information as well as being able to utilize time in more productive activities.

As a requirement of ISO 9001-2000 standards, CAAFLA needed to find out if its customer were satisfied with the way they received CAA services. Each department had to design customer feedback forms, which in turn for the first time brought out customers’ impression on how they perceive CAA’s services. The mere fact of being sensitive and accountable to those who you serve was a major attitudinal change factor in the thinking of the CAAFLA.

Adopting ISO-9001 standard was equally challenging for the top management which was now required to carry out a periodic review of CAAFLA’s performance against specific requirements such as reviewing audit results achievement of objectives customer feedback and other such performance indices. What must be further improved and by how much is an integral question that will be part of these review meetings.

The ISO standards provide an excellent opportunity to make gains in areas of accountability, transparency and continual improvement by implementing standards in their true sprit.

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