Go to top of page

General Aviation (GA) task force

The General Aviation Task Force was established in 2011 to review a number of aspects of the safety regulation of general aviation in Australia.

While CASA continues to actively attend to a range of issues of concern to the general aviation sector, the specialised work of the General Aviation Task Force has been suspended pending the outcome of recommendations emanating from the Aviation Industry Consultative Council (AICC), which was established by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development in December 2014.

The AICC has agreed to establish a General Aviation Action Group to provide an opportunity for GA participants to work collaboratively to respond to pressures facing the industry and identify reform opportunities

Terms of Reference

1. Background and Purpose
1.1 In recognition of the significant changes and challenges facing what is broadly recognised as the general aviation (GA) sector in Australia, today and in the future, the Director of Aviation Safety (DAS) decided to establish a General Aviation Task Force (GATF) to review regulatory issues affecting activities and participants within the GA. Sector.
1.2 The task force will look at various aspects of existing and proposed legislation, and the activities regulated by that legislation, canvassing the views of industry representatives and participants with the intention of gathering fresh perspectives from those most directly involved (or likely to be involved) in the regulated activities under review.
1.3 The task force will liaise closely with relevant standard-setting, oversight, technical and operational areas within CASA, to help ensure the work and work products of those areas are fully informed by, and meaningfully responsive to, the legitimate needs, interests and expectations of all relevant stakeholders in the GA sector.
1.4 The GATF's engagement with the industry is intended to complement and supplement CASA's existing consultative and outreach mechanisms, not to supplant or supersede those activities.
2. What is General Aviation?
2.1 Although the term is widely used, 'general aviation' is not defined in the Australian civil aviation legislation. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines a general aviation operation as '[a]n aircraft operation other than a commercial air transport operation or an aerial work operation.¹
2.2 For the purposes of the GATF, however, 'general aviation' contemplates a wider field of activity, encompassing what are recognised under the current regulations as private operations,² as well as a range of operations classified as aerial work.³ Subject to the provisions of these Terms of Reference, and such other limitations as the Director may specify in writing, from time to time, aspects of what are currently recognised as sport and recreational aviation activities⁴ and, in some cases, charter operations,⁵ may also be considered by the GATF.
3. Structure of the GATF
3.1 The GATF is established as a separate cost centre, under the Director of Aviation Safety (DAS). It operates under a manager who reports directly to the DAS, and will be comprised of such additional staff members and contracted personnel as the Director may authorise.
3.2 In addition to an approved complement of employees (engaged pursuant to paragraph 3.1 above), the manager of the GATF may arrange with relevant CASA Executive Managers for the secondment or temporary loan of subject-matter experts from other areas of CASA to support the work of the GATF. In some cases, this may involve a formal transfer to the GATF, under specified terms and conditions. In other cases, it may involve an arrangement between the manager, GATF, and another CASA Executive Manager, to make use of the latter's staff member(s) on a mutually agreed basis.
3.3 All such arrangements will be made in accordance with relevant CASA policies and practices. Where mutually acceptable arrangements cannot be achieved by negotiation and agreement between the manager, GATF and the Executive Manager of the relevant area(s), the matter will be referred to the DAS for determination.
4. Functions of the GATF—Responsible Engagement
4.1 The primary function of the GATF is to engage with representatives of, and participants in, the GA sector of the Australian civil aviation industry, to canvass their views on the approach CASA is taking or proposes to take, to the regulation of aspects of the activities in which they are engaged, or would like to engage. Generally speaking, this contemplates a process whereby the GATF will seek to ascertain and understand:
  • what things the persons with whom the GATF engages want to see done differently;
  • they way in which they believe those things ought to be done;
  • why they believe those things should be done in the way they propose; and
  • why they believe it is to CASA that they should properly look for that outcome.
4.2 For the purposes of the GATF, engaging with industry is essentially an exercise in 'active listening', in the course of which the GATF may be expected to generate and demonstrate a reasonable measure of empathy with its interlocutors, but without expressing or displaying what might be characterised or regarded as sympathy for the views they may express.⁶ Even where a GATF representative may personally sympathise with the views of the persons with whom he or she is engaging, as a GATF representative, except where those views are consistent with existing or formally endorsed legislative requirements and/or CASA policies and practices, it is as inappropriate for a GATF representative to express such personal sympathy as it is for any other CASA manager or officer to do so, in their role as a CASA manager or officer.
4.3 While it is perfectly appropriate for the GATF to advise the persons with whom it engages that their expressed views will be given all due consideration, in no case should the GATF offer or extend what may be regarded as promises, assurances or undertakings that those views will necessarily be accepted or adopted by CASA.
4.4 On this basis, the GATF will solicit and consider the views of those with whom it engages, and prepare such reports and analyses of the issues involved as may be necessary or appropriate to inform the DAS, the directorate and/or the work of other areas of CASA, in relation to the development of new, and the revision of existing, technical, operational and licensing standards and practices.
4.5 Except where expressly instructed, in writing, to do so by the DAS, it is not a function of the GATF to formulate or propose regulatory policies on its own accord, or to advocate publicly (that is, in any context or forum at which persons other than CASA managers and officers are present) for the adoption of the particular views of individual representatives of, or participants in, Australian GA activities. Rather, as said, the GATF is expected to capture those views, individually and, where appropriate, in a consolidated fashion, analysing and commenting on their advantages and disadvantages—from the perspectives of their interlocutors—and presenting those views (and the GATF's explanatory analyses) for consideration by the Director, and/or CASA's standard-formulating, standard-setting and standard-implementing areas.
4.6 In all cases, the GATF, and all persons acting for or on behalf of the GATF, are bound by all relevant and applicable CASA policies and procedural guidelines, unless the DAS expressly authorises, in writing, a departure from those obligations.⁷
4.7 For their part, it is expected that CASA managers will actively and cooperatively engage and cooperate with the GATF, taking its submissions and recommendations fully into account in their activities, in addition to any other input that would normally be considered as relevant to their standard-formulating, standard-setting and standard implementing processes. In any case where the submissions or recommendations of the GATF are not reflected in the outputs or outcomes of those activities, it is expected that the managers responsible for those outputs and outcomes will provide the Director with a written explanation for their reasons for not doing so.
4.8 From time to time, on the basis of written directions from the DAS, the GATF will prepare and present reports addressing to particular issues, topics, themes or specified aspects of GA activity.
4.9 The manager of the GATF and CASA Executive Managers may submit written requests to the DAS for the GATF to examine and report on particular or general issues, topics, themes related to GA activity. Copies of all such submissions will be circulated to the Deputy Director of Aviation Safety, the Associate Director of Aviation Safety and all Executive Managers at the same time they are submitted to the DAS.
5. Work Program of the GATF
5.1 The work program of the GATF will be specified in writing by the DAS from time to time, indicating, amongst other things:
  • the nature and scope of the task(s) to be undertaken;
  • expected outputs and outcomes
  • the time frame within which the work is, and in some cases individual elements of that work are, to be completed
5.2 Where more than one piece of work has been assigned to the GATF, the DAS will set the priority the GATF is to give to each item.
5.3 Upon receipt of directions from the DAS to undertake a particular task, the manager, GATF, will prepare and provide the DAS with a written plan, specifying in sufficient detail, how he proposes the GATF will approach and complete the task(s) to hand.
5.4 The GATF will not initiate work on any particular piece of work until the DAS has approved the plan in writing, and then only on the basis of such amendments (if any) as the DAS may specify in his approval.


¹ International Civil Aviation Vocabulary, 3rd ed., 2007 (Doc 9713), p. 1-289

² Paragraph 2(7)(d) of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 (CAR)

³ CAR 206(1)(a)

⁴ Including certain operations contemplated by CAR 206(1A)

⁵ CAR 206(1)(b)

⁶ In this context, empathy means recognising and understanding the nature and basis of the beliefs, desires, expectations and/or attitudes of the persons with whom one is engaging, without necessarily sharing or agreeing with those beliefs, desires, expectations and/or attitudes. Sympathy means sharing or agreeing with the beliefs, desires, expectations and/or attitudes of the persons with whom one is engaging.

⁷ The manager, GATF, should consult with the Deputy Director of Aviation Safety or the Associate Director of Aviation Safety, if he or she has any doubt about the application or relevance of any other CASA policies or guidelines. It is also incumbent on the manager, GATF, to obtain the advice from the Legal Services Division on any questions of interpretation of the legislation or any other issues that may have legal implications.