From CEO and Director of Aviation Safety Shane Carmody
As we approach the end of 2017 there are three key issues I am pushing towards resolution. These are reforms to the aviation medicine system, radio frequency use at low levels in uncontrolled airspace and drone regulation. While it will not be possible to make regulatory or other changes before the end of this year, I do want everyone in the aviation community to be clear about CASA’s intent on these policies and for action plans to be under development where required. CASA has conducted consultation on all three issues and we have reached, or are developing, policy positions that reflect the legitimate interests of people across the aviation community while ensuring we get appropriate and optimal safety outcomes. As in everything we do CASA is striving to find the right balance between safety, operational flexibility and sensible rule making.
I know there is keen interest in the reform of aviation medicine, with 164 responses submitted to our discussion paper on the topic. After carefully looking at the responses we are close to finalising positions on a range of aviation medical changes, including streamlining the medical process for private pilots. Much of this work is based on the latest assessment of medical risks, along with a goal of removing unnecessary red tape where this is possible without impacting safety outcomes. I believe the aviation community accepts the need for medical standards and assessments in key operational positions, as long as the requirements are proportional to the risks. Of course risks are never static, so we do need to review our requirements when appropriate, which is exactly what we are doing. I expect to announce proposed medical changes before the close of 2017.
A notice of proposed rule making on low level radio frequencies will also be released before the end of 2017. This will set out how we will implement the decision to use the multicom frequency 126.7 below 5000 feet in class G airspace, as well as associated changes. Instrument flight rules traffic will still be required to monitor the relevant area frequency below 5000 feet and CASA will encourage visual flight rules traffic to do the same. In the area of drone regulation we are completing the analysis of the feedback to the recent discussion paper on the future of regulation for this sector. Initial analysis shows a high level of support for both some type of drone registration scheme and a level of mandatory training for people flying drones. With the continuing rapid growth in the drone sector there are clearly important regulatory decisions to be made in 2018.
New approach to surveillance outcomes
A number of important changes have been made to CASA’s approach to safety surveillance. Surveillance findings are now being presented in a simpler and more easily understood format. The aim is to clearly link surveillance findings to safety outcomes, encouraging a genuinely collaborative approach between CASA and the aviation community to maintaining and improving safety. There are now three levels of surveillance findings – safety alerts, safety findings and safety observations. Safety alerts are issued to identify regulatory deficiencies that require immediate attention by the aviation authorisation holder that has been audited or checked. Safety findings, which were previously known as non-compliance notices or NCNs, identify regulatory issues that require timely attention by the authorisation holder but are not urgent. Safety observations are issued when CASA finds areas where safety performance could potentially be improved. There is no change to findings in relation to aircraft defects, which will continue to be raised as Aircraft Survey Reports – known as ASRs. CASA is also taking a more proactive approach to sharing information as part of surveillance activity. During the exit meeting at the end of surveillance activity CASA will wherever possible advise authorisation holders of any potential findings, including safety alerts, safety findings or safety observations. These findings will be provisional but the early sharing of this information will give authorisation holders the chance to immediately start working to resolve any issues. Surveillance findings will be formally confirmed in writing after full consideration and review. The surveillance changes have been made in response to recommendations made in the Australian Government’s Aviation Safety Regulation Review.
Find out more from the surveillance fact sheet.
Regulatory challenges have been set
CASA is challenging itself to produce aviation safety regulations that are reasonable and relevant. That’s a key message from the chair of CASA’s Board, Jeff Boyd, in the 2016-17 annual report. Mr Boyd says: “CASA’s Board is working closely with the organisation to drive a practical approach to regulation. We have set some ambitious targets for the release of all outstanding regulations and we will meet them by working to a deadline with defined deliverables and being transparent by making the regulation reform timeline public. We have demonstrated also, through the delay in releasing the fatigue management rule set, for example, that we are prepared to stop and review whether our proposed solutions are fit for purpose.” Mr Boyd adds there has been a shift in the way CASA regulates, as well as a commitment to improvement and pragmatism, which has been driven by CASA’s regulatory philosophy. “That said there is little room for complacency: international, technological, economic and industry developments mean that the regulation of aviation safety must continually evolve and adapt. In response, CASA must regularly adjust and review its own activities and operations to ensure that the organisation remains fit for purpose in a rapidly changing environment. And we know we must do things efficiently and effectively, with a view to meeting the expectations of the Government while achieving satisfactory outcomes for the aviation industry.”
Read more about CASA in the 2016-17 annual report.
Keep track of your application
CASA is introducing a new SMS notification system for people who submit remote pilot and flight crew licensing applications. The changes are part of continued efforts to improve the way CASA communicates with the aviation community. The new SMS notification system will let people know when application processing starts and finishes. This means applicants won’t need to keep checking the CASA Self Service online system to see how their application is progressing. Never-the-less, CASA Self Service will still provide the information for anyone who prefers to access it online. There is no need to register to receive the SMS notifications – applicants just need to make sure their contact details, including their mobile phone number, are up to date. Over the coming months the system will be expanded to provide notifications to people applying for aviation medical certificates.
Find out more about the new SMS notification system.
Christmas-New Year closure details
CASA will be taking a break over the Christmas-New Year holiday period. Normal services provided to the aviation community will not be available from close of business Friday 22 December 2017 until start of business Tuesday 2 January 2018. People who anticipate needing CASA services during the holiday period should contact CASA well before the closure. New applications, variations and renewals should be submitted to CASA as soon as possible. In particular please note that only urgent issues can be dealt with on Friday 22 December 2017. All normal services will resume on Tuesday 2 January 2018. Over the holiday period there will be some CASA staff available to help with urgent aviation safety matters but please limit enquiries to matters that need immediate attention. For holiday season help call the main CASA telephone number – 131 757 – and follow the prompts. Foreign air operators looking for information over the Christmas-New Year period should go to the international operations section of the CASA web site. Urgent assistance for international operations requests such as non-scheduled medical flights can be obtained by calling +61 7 3144 7400. CASA will also assist with urgent or emergency airspace requests - call +61 2 6217 1177.
Get all the 2017-18 holiday information.
Aircraft flight manuals explained
A new advisory circular is now available on aircraft flight manuals. The circular sets out the requirements for aircraft flight manuals and lists aircraft not required to have the document. This includes aircraft up to a maximum take-off weight of 2,722 kg manufactured and flown prior to 1 March 1979, historic and ex-military aircraft, amateur-built aircraft and experimental aircraft. Covered in the circular are topics such as the format of aircraft flight manuals, approvals for changes, maintaining the manuals, pilot requirements and carriage of the manuals in aircraft. For some older aircraft, the aircraft flight manual may be referred to as the pilot’s operating handbook, the owner’s handbook or the owner’s manual. The Civil Aviation Regulations require the registered operator of an aircraft to ensure the aircraft flight manual is at all times appropriate for the aircraft, having regard to any modifications or repairs. The regulations also require a pilot in command to comply with the requirements, instructions, procedures or limitations on the operation of an aircraft as set out in an aircraft flight manual. If an aircraft flight manual has been issued for a particular aircraft it must be carried on board at all times unless the aircraft is operated under an air operator’s certificate and an approved operations manual is carried.
Go to the aircraft flight manual advisory circular.
Fines issued for drone breaches
CASA continues to issues penalties for breaches of the remotely piloted aircraft safety regulations. So far in 2017 more than 20 people have been fined for breaking the drone rules. Recently a recreational drone flyer was fined $900 for operating over a Victorian jumps horse race, which was deemed a populous area. A recreational drone flyer was fined $1050 for operating a drone over a state netball carnival in Queensland – again deemed a populous area. In Sydney, a recreational drone flyer who took to the air near the Harbour Bridge and Opera House was fined $540 for operating in the Sydney Harbour restricted airspace. A South Australian recreational drone operator was issued with a $900 penalty for flying beyond visual line of sight. All these fines were avoidable by simply following the safety rules at all times and in the case of the Sydney Harbour flight by using the Can I Fly There? app, which shows restricted airspace and other no-fly zones. CASA has also counselled many drone flyers for operations that potentially breach the remotely piloted aircraft regulations.
Follow the drone safety rules at all times.
Checking battery capacity
Advice on lead acid battery capacity tests is now available. An in-flight battery failure resulting in a loss of electrical power can be catastrophic. In an airworthiness bulletin CASA says a battery capacity test provides an indication of the condition of the battery and provides an initial starting point for the first charge. The capacity of a battery is the ability to deliver current for a minimum amount of time while remaining above a minimum voltage. The battery is considered airworthy if it meets 80 to 85 per cent of its one hour capacity rating. Proper maintenance is essential if batteries are to achieve maximum life and performance. Testing is done by connecting a fully charged battery that has been removed from an aircraft to a capacity tester that incorporates a load resistance, amp meter, volt meter and a timer. Batteries that are found to be airworthy must be recharged before being refitted to an aircraft as charging while in an aircraft is dangerous and prohibited. The airworthiness bulletin provides advice on how often battery capacity tests should be carried out.
Get the full details on battery capacity tests.
CASA has responded to feedback on new helicopter licensing requirements. Comment is being sought by 3 December 2017 on a proposal to amend Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations to include a 105 hour training option for the commercial helicopter pilot licence. This reflects the old 105 hour option in the Civil Aviation Regulations.
The list of maintenance training organisations approved to carry out aircraft maintenance training theory and practical training has been updated.
The advisory circular on using a Part 66 licence to provide certification for completion of maintenance has been updated.
Guidance on use of night vision imaging systems during helicopter operations has been updated.
On 9 November 2017 changes to the phraseology for standard instrument departures and arrivals - SIDs and STARs - took effect in Australia.
The manual of standards for Part 90 – additional airworthiness requirements – has changed the requirements for flight crew seating, emergency exits, and carriage of fire extinguishers.
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