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The Australian Airports Association National Conference
Presentation by Shane Carmody, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Aviation Safety 13 November 2018
As CEO/DAS, my responsibilities are to manage the operations of CASA and the exercise of our statutory functions, including the development and implementation of regulation, executive-decision making, and all day-to-day operational matters.
In short, the head of power that grants or cancels Air Operator’s Certificates and licenses (and everything else) flows from the DAS. I do this under the strategic direction of a very experienced CASA Board being mindful of the Ministers Statement of Expectations, and the Civil Aviation Act.
Two areas of focus for me are:
- Managing the operations of a complex organisation, including dealings with the industry, government, interest groups and stakeholders.
- Applying the Minister’s (in this case the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack) Statement of Expectations and CASA’s Regulatory Philosophy to deliver a fair, firm and balanced aviation safety regulation system and promote a positive and a collaborative safety culture.
There has been a lot said and reported about ‘regulators’ in the last six months or so—about their oversight of their respective sectors.
CASA is Australia’s aviation safety regulator, established on 6 July 1995, and is a corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
CASA, in its current form, was established with a focus being first and foremost—aviation safety. This stemmed from the tragic Monarch and Seaview accidents in 1993 and 1994 respectively where the then Civil Aviation Authority was found to have failed in its safety responsibility by placing commercial considerations ahead of safety of passengers.
I will do my utmost to ensure that this never occurs again.
Our key role is to conduct the safety regulation of civil air operations in Australian territory and the operation of Australian aircraft outside Australian territory. In fact, Section 9A (1) of the Act states: ‘In exercising its powers and performing its functions, CASA must regard the safety of air navigation as the most important consideration.’
Current aviation challenges
Last year I spoke about changes and challenges in aviation—which included drones, regulatory reform and transforming service delivery. While we have made progress in these areas, they are still a major consideration today:
- The number of drones continues to increase. But it is not just the amount of drones, it’s what you can do with them. There is no doubt we have only scratched the surface of opportunity here. We are already seeing trials of deliveries of food and non-prescription medicines by drones in my home town and we are hearing more and more from companies interested in pushing the envelope. In fact, just this morning there was an article in the Financial Review about flying ride-sharing vehicles—transporting workers between the central business district and regional centres or airports—within five years! While there is a lot to do in this area to ensure these operate safely, can you even imagine the potential this type of service will unlock? It is interesting aside too that the amount of safety reports on drone and aircraft interactions appears to have at the very least plateaued. We hope this is (at least in part) due to our strong education campaign. This is a brave new world and there is much to do.
- We have been working hard on finalising the regulatory reform—as I said I would do last year. The flight operations regulations 91, 119, 121, 133, 135 and 138 are on track to be made this year. Part 149 was made earlier this year. My aim—external forces not withstanding—is for the remaining few lower priority regulations to be done early next year.
- Transforming service delivery, will continue. We are starting with how we can improve our processes. We have already made it easier to interact with us to get an ARN. We will be moving through drone registration as our next test case and will evolve from there to include more innovative licensing solutions. Our aim is to make it easier to interact with us.
But a key transformation from CASA’s perspective—and one I intend to focus on now is how we manage and improve our surveillance activities.
Improvements to surveillance activities
We conduct surveillance to monitor the ongoing safety health and maturity of authorisation holders, which includes around 320 aerodrome operators. There has been minor attrition for the quantity of registered aerodromes and a steady increase in the requests for new certifications, mostly from the mining and resources sector.
We started to make some changes a few years ago with the introduction of sector risk profiles (SRPs) which identify sector specific risks and develop an understanding of the effects of risks to various sectors, such as the aerial mustering sector and small aeroplane sector, that sector participants must address to help optimise safety performance.
One of the early SRPs was for the aerodromes sector. SRPs present stakeholders with a risk picture and are developed in collaboration with sector participants as well as utilising information from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. We will have another look at this aerodrome SRP sometime in 2019—as the current SRP has probably reached the end of its intended life.
We will be looking to expand the next one to include unregulated aerodromes as well as aligning with the outcomes of the Part 139 Post Implementation Review.
In short, CASA is doing a lot of stuff.
This year we established regular risk profiling for airspace that will soon be developed to include ongoing risk analysis for aerodromes. We have the capacity to conduct monthly surveillance risk profiling now, but we hope to increase that to a daily or weekly report soon.
We have also started grading our surveillance differently, we now issue safety alerts, safety findings or safety observations.
We also have a couple of options for sharing of information. The aviation community can ask for a copy of a sector analysis relevant to them which outlines the top five factors from our Authorisation Holder Performance Indicator tool. We now also provide provisional findings at the end of a surveillance event, to give the authorisation holder a ‘heads up’ if you like about potential findings.
We have recently established ways to utilise third-party audits in certain situations as part of our new surveillance process. The intent is to either assist us in our oversight of operators or to remove the need for surveillance if a similar audit has recently been conducted. In relation to aircraft operators, I recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to access their reports of Australian carriers who are subject to an IATA Operational Safety Audit—which expanded our existing access from only foreign carriers.
National Surveillance Selection Process
In July this year we finally established a National Surveillance Selection Process (NSSP). This is something we had talked about internally for years. It is a systematic national approach to the prioritisation and scheduling of planned surveillance events across a financial year. Put simply, we have 1032 surveillance events planned for the financial year—across all disciplines and across our entire area of responsibility. Effectively looking more deeply into how we plan and conduct our surveillance activities.
We are looking at four pillars of surveillance:
- National Surveillance Selection Process (our scheduled surveillance)
- National Sector Campaigns (sample surveillance of certain sectors)
- response activities (our response to incidents/accidents) and
- regulatory services (entry control).
All of our surveillance activities will fit into one of those categories, which will allow us to apply a risk management and consistent approach to surveillance. Aerodromes will essentially be split into two ‘levels’, which will provide us with standard requirements to look at per level.
For example, a Level A aerodrome (majors plus key regionals) will require different and potentially more frequent contact than Level B aerodrome. There is still design work to do here.
For aerodromes, the NSSP will provide us with the opportunity to consider aerodromes on a risk-based priority, and schedule surveillance at least 12 months ahead. We are looking to couple this with a mobile client tool to establish greater standardisation of surveillance events and data.
This means we allocate our resources more efficiently and effectively to ensure we all achieve the highest safety benefit of our oversight—and potentially other activities. This will give us a more holistic approach to aviation safety, so we can be more engaging, proactive, collaborative and accountable. It also means we are no longer ‘parking inspectors’ waiting for airports to do something and deciding whether or not it is compliant—we are changing our business model and Andy Sparrow [Branch manager of Air navigation, Airspace and Aerodromes] and his team are very keen to be more proactive. This will allow CASA to be more of an ‘enabler’ to help you deliver what you need to deliver in a safe manner and within the current (and proposed) regulatory requirements.
I’m sure many of you would agree that compliance checking is only a small part of delivering a safe environment. Support, guidance, honesty and transparency are at least as important to deliver a safe outcome.
All this is working towards a more risk-based approach to how we prioritise and conduct surveillance. It is also intended to reduce costs and impost on industry, but do not take this to mean we are going to walk away from our aviation oversight responsibilities—that is not the case. We are making it a more efficient and effective process to the benefit of the aviation community.
Future and other projects
To give you an idea of some more specific airspace and aerodrome work, CASA is considering a different approach to the review and development of airspace architecture around the Sydney basin, especially in light of the construction of the Western Sydney Airport, an identified need for changes to airspace associated with Bankstown and other airspace considerations slightly further afield such as a possible requirement for additional protective airspace around Tidbinbilla.
This holistic approach will be predicated on a more in depth understanding of airspace hazards and risks which will only be fully understood following consultation with the aviation community, such as those represented here. Note that by 2025 drones are likely to be a major feature of Western Sydney Airport—another consideration to be effectively integrated.
We have also recently met with the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities to discuss issues related to obstacle lighting around airports—including on wind farms—which is an area of significant growth for CASA. We are looking for the best way forward to ease the burden of monitoring obstacle lighting placed on aerodrome operators whilst ensuring that the safety of flight is not compromised. We are committed to taking a practical approach, providing more guidance to state planning authorities to find the most workable solution.
Another area of work is the Heliport Project, which is looking to incorporate ICAO design standards into the aerodrome standards. While this is not necessarily new, we have had a focus on the flight operations regulations this year that has impacted our ability to finalise this project. At present, Australia only provides guidance material for heliport facilities. The incorporation of a heliport design standard is required for the integration of heliports into the Air Transport regulations (which I mentioned earlier are expected to be made this year).
The Government announced in this year’s budget the Satellite-based Augmentation System (SBAS). It is expected that SBAS will deliver (in the next five years or so) the ability for every runway in the country to have lateral and vertical guidance. CASA’s involvement will be around certifying SBAS, which will be a lot of work, but the safety benefits are profound. Most current and future aircraft will be SBAS capable, but the older aircraft may not be, which will need to be a consideration prior to the full roll out of SBAS.
We also have had some requests for the launch of high-powered rockets into our airspace in the past 12 months. This type of operation involves two different areas within CASA. These operations need to be assessed by our Sports Aviation area in relation to the operation and the rockets themselves and then our Airspace area who will focus on the possible impacts to the airspace. The Government has also recently established the Australian Space Agency, which is another organisation we will need to work with on these types of requests.
Let me draw this together for you. I’m after the right safety outcomes through proper process, real consultation and transparent decision-making. The Aviation Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) established last year, is going a long way to assisting with improvements to our consultation processes and uses Technical Working Groups (TWGs) to further assist. This model is working extremely well and is making sure we collaborate with the right areas and have considered all aspects of our regulations before they are made.
I’d like to thank those who have contributed to our recent Post Implementation Review process and those who participate in the ASAP TWGs—we really appreciate the effort you put into providing your feedback and recognise the time away from your normal business this brings with it. With that understanding in mind, we are looking at ways to get more involvement, with less burden.
One of those ways is our webinar program. Most recently, as part of the AAA’s safety week, we held a webinair on the roles and responsibilities of our aerodrome inspectors. We had around 90 people participate from around the country which gave our inspector the opportunity to share his experience and share a range of topics and take questions from participants. This was a great opportunity to increase the understating with industry of the work our inspectors do.
My thanks again to Caroline Wilkie and the AAA for hosting the national conference, and my compliments to you on the organisation and structure. I appreciate the opportunity to get out and speak with industry in forums like this to explain what we are doing and where we are going.