Changing flight operations regulations – impacts for airworthiness and maintenance

New rules covering flight operations started on 2 December 2021.

The intent of the rules for continuing airworthiness and maintenance of aircraft did not change.  However, some requirements for continuing airworthiness are changing.

These changes specifically relate to:

  • operational category terminology
  • the approval and use of a minimum equipment list (MEL) for an aircraft
  • identification of the person responsible for continuing airworthiness in your organisation.

Find out more about the flight operations regulations transition.

Operational categories and related maintenance rules

The transitional flight operations legislation refers to scheduled and non-scheduled air transport operations. This language replaces the terms: regular public transport (RPT) and charter.

Under the new Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) for flight operations:

  • Scheduled air transport operations (instead of RPT) continue to maintain aircraft under Part 42 and Part 145 of CASR.
  • Non-scheduled air transport operations (instead of charter) continue to use a Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) 30 maintenance organisation.

If you were a non-scheduled air transport (charter) operator before, you can begin offering scheduled services. However you must maintain aircraft under Part 42 and Part 145 of CASR.

If you had a different maintenance arrangement in place before 2 December 2021, then that will also continue.

Actions all air operator certificate (AOC) holders must take to change terminology

You must update your existing documents and procedures to include these changes, including new terms and legislative references. It is recommended that you ensure you have accurately identified who is responsible for the continuing airworthiness of your aircraft and who your maintenance provider is.

You have until 2 June 2022 to give us your updated and integrated exposition or operations manual.

We have created resources to help, including sample templates.

Updating maintenance releases with new language

For aircraft operating as charter before the new rules commenced, you must reflect the new language in your management of change. Including:

  • aircraft logbook statement
  • maintenance releases renewed after 2 December 2021.

When considering the operational category of your aircraft please refer to rules 202.412B and 202.412C in Subdivision 202.EAA.1.8—Main translation rules for old instruments.

Changes to minimum equipment list (MEL) requirements

There are changes to the requirements for:

  • the approval and use of a minimum equipment list (MEL)
  • approvals for operation of an aircraft with certain defects, not permitted under a MEL.

The requirements for approval and use of an MEL are included in Subpart 91.Y of CASR and the Part 91 Manual of Standards.

MEL related approvals

For existing approvals:

  • A MEL and variation to a MEL approved under CAR 37 stays in force without needing for further approval.
  • A one-off permissible unserviceability approved under CAR 37, including an extension of a MEL rectification interval, stays in force until the approval expires.

Other types of approvals are provided by industry delegates acting on behalf of CASA, or CASA officers. These approvals include:

  • a new MEL under subregulation 91.935(4) of CASR
  • varying an existing MEL under subregulation 91.940(4) of CASR.
  • extensions under subregulation 91.945(3) of CASR.

An extension of a MEL rectification interval can only be approved once and only for a category B or C item. We consider such operations in accordance with the MEL.

Approval to operate an aircraft with a defect

You can operate an aircraft with a defect with a permissible unserviceability approval. You can apply for approval to operate an aircraft with:

  • a defect listed in the aircraft's MEL after the expiry of the rectification interval for the defect. This includes the expiry of an 'extended rectification' interval of a category B or C item.
  • with a defect that is not permitted by an MEL, either because the defect is not listed in the aircraft’s MEL or there is no MEL for the aircraft.

Both types of approval are given by:

  • a CASA officer under CAR 37 or regulation 21.007 of CASR
  • an authorised person or a relevant approved design organisation under regulation 21.007 of CASR. Provided their scope of authorisation allows them to approve the permissible unserviceability.

Industry delegations and authorisations under subpart 91.Y (full implementation)

Existing industry delegates who operate under regulation 37 of CAR (CAR 37) will have their delegations replaced with equivalent privileges under Subpart 91.Y. This includes delegation to approve a new MEL, a variation to an existing MEL, and an extension of rectification interval for category B or C items.

However, the use of an industry delegate to provide MEL related approvals under subpart 91.Y is a temporary measure.

Full implementation of Subpart 91.Y will allow a continuing airworthiness management organisation (CAMO) to:

  • approve a MEL and a variation to an MEL under subregulations 91.935(4) and 91.940(4) of CASR
  • extend a MEL rectification interval for a category B or C item under subregulations 91.945(3) and (4) of CASR

While subpart 91.Y already includes provisions for such approvals, the supporting regulations to assess and approve a CAMO for these purposes haven’t yet been added to Part 42.

Full implementation of Subpart 91.Y will also allow industry personnel to be appointed as authorised persons. They will be able to provide some MEL related approvals for aircraft that are not used in air transport operations.

Requirement to identify person responsible for continuing airworthiness 

If you hold:

  • an Air Operators Certificate (AOC)
  • an Aerial Work certificate
  • a Part 141 flight training authorisation

you need to identify the person in your organisation responsible for continuing airworthiness of your aircraft. This may include a Head of Aircraft Airworthiness and Maintenance Control (HAAMC).

If you decide to change the person responsible for continuing airworthiness, you will need to assess that change in line with your change management procedures.

You must assess whether the change:

  • is an automatic significant change that requires our approval 
  • or results in a degradation in the level of aviation safety and is therefore a significant change that requires our approval.

An automatic significant change includes when there is a change in the formal reporting line to a key person. Depending on the operation being conducted, see subparagraphs 119.020(a)(iv), 131.030(a)(iv), 138.012(a)(iv), 141.025(a)(iv) and 142.030(a)(vi) of CASR.

For a possible degradation in the level of safety, and depending on the kind of operation being conducted, see paragraphs 119.020(b), 131.030(b), 138.012(c), 141.025(c) and 142.030(c) of CASR.

Last updated:
11 Jul 2022
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