From CEO and Director of Aviation Safety Shane Carmody
I am pleased to advise significant progress is being made in implementing the key reforms to the aviation medical system we announced late in 2017. From 1 March 2018 a Class 2 medical certificate will be an option for pilots operating non-passenger carrying commercial flights in aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of less than 8618 kilograms. This includes pilots operating in aerial application, flight examiners and flight instructors. Currently these pilots must have a Class 1 medical for these operations. The change opens up the potential pool of pilots for these operations, giving more experienced pilots who no longer hold a Class 1 medical the opportunity to continue to contribute to non-passenger carrying commercial aviation. A particular benefit will be allowing experienced air transport pilots to offer their services and skills to flying training – a change with the potential to benefit current and future pilots.
Another of the announced reforms to aviation medicine is on track to be implemented by late March 2018. This change will allow all designated aviation medical examiners (DAMEs) to issue Class 2 medicals on the spot without reference to CASA, unless the DAME elects to refer the application to CASA. Allowing DAMEs to directly issue Class 2 medicals should simplify and speed up the medical process for hundreds of applicants each month. I can also advise the new Basic Class 2 medical certificate – based on the Austroads commercial vehicle driver standards – is on track to be introduced in the middle of 2018.
Progress on new flight rules
The first consultation with the aviation community on the proposed new general operating and flight rules—Part 91 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations - has commenced. An industry technical working group recently undertook evaluation of the draft regulation and the associated manual of standards. The working group was the first to meet since the establishment of the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel – the new group of aviation community representatives that advises CASA on current issues. The working group found the draft regulations and standards broadly achieved the intended policy, although some issues need to be addressed. Where possible the suggested changes will be made, or issues will be highlighted for additional feedback during further consultation. CASA staff supporting the Part 91 working group were impressed by the dedication of the participants and thanked members for their time and valuable feedback. Part 91 is a key element of a suite of regulations covering flight operations, which also includes Parts 119, 121, 133, 135 and 138.
Find out more about Part 91.
New SMS alerts for medicals
A new SMS notification system to assist people who have applied for an aviation medical certificate is now available. Medical applicants can opt to receive SMS notifications from CASA’s medical records system when they lodge their application. An automatic SMS will be sent to their mobile phone number on three occasions: 60 days before a medical certificate is due to expire, once a designated aviation medical examiner has uploaded a medical application to CASA and when a medical certificate has been issued by CASA. The new system will also send manual SMS messages notifying applicants of any correspondence that has been sent by email - such as requests for further information, prompts to supply missing information and reminders to provide previously requested reports.
Find out more about the medical records system.
Codeine now only by prescription
If you’re a pilot, engineer, air traffic controller or anyone else working in a safety sensitive aviation position you need to be aware of the changes to codeine scheduling introduced on 1 February 2018. Medicines containing codeine are now only available with a prescription from your doctor. If your doctor prescribes medicine containing codeine you must notify the organisation you’re working for so appropriate work safety measures can be put in place. CASA already routinely screens for codeine and opiates as part of the alcohol and drug testing program. This is done because codeine can impair performance, making it unsuitable for use in a safety sensitive environment. If you already own medicines containing codeine that you purchased over the counter before 1 February 2018, and you are working in a safety sensitive aviation position, you should not use these medications without a doctor’s report and you must notify your aviation organisation.
More information about the codeine changes can be found at the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Codeine information hub.
Commonwealth Games airspace restrictions
Airspace restrictions will be in place during the upcoming Commonwealth Games being held on the Gold Coast. From 2 – 18 April 2018 all aircraft and airspace users planning to fly within 90 nautical miles of the Gold Coast airport must comply with the regulations and the procedures detailed in an Aeronautical Information Service Supplement and relevant NOTAMs. Temporary restricted areas and air defence identification zones will be created. Any aircraft unable to comply with the requirements will not be allowed to operate within the temporary restricted areas. Any aircraft that does not comply with the air defence identification zone requirements may be subject to intercept by military aircraft and the crew subject to criminal prosecution. There will be increased Australian Defence Force and Queensland Police Airwing activity in the region. Aircraft transiting the Gold Coast area during the Games should plan to avoid the area from Broadbeach, Porpoise Point Southport, Nerang, Mudgeeraba to Robina due to increased traffic.
The operation of drones is also restricted during the Commonwealth Games, from 25 March to 18 April 2018. An Aeronautical Information Circular sets out temporary restricted areas for drones at the main stadium and all other venues, including those outside the Gold Coast at locations such as Cairns and Townsville. No sport or recreational drones will be given permission to operate within any of the areas around Games venues. Sport and recreational drone flyers must not bring drones to any Games venue. Commercial drone operations will only be allowed if prior approval has been given and no approvals will be given for areas where there will be low level helicopter operations. There will be an increased police presence at all venues to monitor compliance with the restrictions and penalties can be issued.
Find out more about Commonwealth Games airspace.
Get details on drone restrictions.
Keep safe from wasps
A timely reminder has been issued about the risks mud dauber wasps can pose to aircraft. Mud dauber wasps are common across Australia, are up to three centimetres in length and are either completely black or metallic blue, with some species having yellow or greenish markings on the body. Mud dauber wasps will build a nest in any available cavity, including those in aircraft. A defect report investigation found a number of wasp nests inside the wing of a Cessna 182. There was also one large wasp nest entirely suspended on the flight control cables in the rear fuselage. A wasp nest can completely block pitot tubes, fuel tank vents and drains. Wasp nest and insect blockages in pitot tubes are not limited to small aircraft. Each year, CASA receives approximately five defect reports affecting various systems and types of aircraft. Overseas reports detail fatal accidents which have been attributed to wasp nests blocking the pitot tube, resulting in a loss of airspeed indication. In 2013 an Airbus A330 suffered a rejected take-off in Brisbane due to an airspeed indication failure which was only detected during the take-off roll. During the subsequent inspection it was found that the Captain’s pitot probe was almost totally obstructed by an insect nest, consistent with mud-dauber wasp nest residue. Nests can be built in very short periods of time, which means protective covers should be used even during short turn-around times. In an airworthiness bulletin CASA makes a number of recommendations to protect against wasp infestation.
Get all the details about wasp infestation.
Cabin safety focus – turbulence and devices
Two new cabin safety bulletins have been issued – covering portable electronic devices and turbulence and seat belts. Cabin safety bulletins provide guidance to air operators and cabin crew on important safety issues. The importance of seat belts and harnesses is highlighted by the 386 reports of weather-related incidents in 2016. Approximately 86 per cent of all reported weather-related incidents involved windshear or turbulence. Errors that lead to injuries include cabin crew members not being secure during turbulence, cabin crew members standing during critical phases of flight, leaving service equipment unrestrained and handling hot liquids during turbulence. The bulletin also covers passenger seat belts, cabin crew standard operating procedures, training and monitoring and improvement. The bulletin covering portable electronic devices provides guidance on the exemption that permits expanded use of devices. Surveillance and information obtained by CASA has indicated air operators may need to conduct a review to ensure they are meeting the requirements of the exemption relating to the stowage of loose articles. There are a number of steps that must be taken to meet the exemption conditions, including a risk assessment, crew training and passenger information.
Horn Island airspace review
A review of airspace around Horn Island in the Torres Strait has made six recommendations. The review, by CASA’s Office of Airspace Regulation, found the airspace architecture is fit for purpose. However, local area charting needs to be introduced for the Torres Strait area to assist pilots operating into and out of Horn Island. Stakeholder feedback focussed on charting issues and the need for additional infrastructure at Horn Island aerodrome, such as a new taxiway. Airspace users also identified the need for targeted education about the airspace and local procedures for the region. Recommendations include the need for Airservices Australia to publish by 8 November 2018 a visual navigation chart that provides a clear indication of the visual reference points used by visual flight rules aircraft. Airservices is also to include Coconut Island on the Enroute chart low 6 as soon as possible. The Horn Island airport operator should conduct a bi-annual airspace users forum with locally based airspace users and regular transient operators to discuss operating issues or risks associated with flying activity in the region. The Torres Shire Council should consider the safety, efficiency and capacity benefit of a taxiway parallel to runway 08/26.
Seminars for pilots
The popular lessons for life safety seminars for pilots continue in March 2018. There are seminars being held at:
- Swan Hill
- Point Cook
- Jacobs Well*
The seminars will explore three major themes: flying within your limits, making the right decisions in-flight and hazards on arrival. Case studies of accidents will be used to take pilots through many of the safety-related decisions faced at three crucial phases of flight - before departing, in-flight, and at the crucial arrival and landing phase. Updates will be delivered on key safety messages and issues from Airservices Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. CASA's safety advisers ensure the seminars are interactive and open, with pilots encouraged to talk about their own experiences and offer their own lessons. Seminars marked by an asterisk include a briefing by Airservices Australia on the airspace and procedure changes around the Gold Coast during the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
Book your place at an AvSafety seminar for pilots now.
- Remember the 2017 Flight Safety Australia Collectors' Edition is now available. This print magazine is a bumper collection of more than 50 articles that were published online during 2017. It includes features, contributor and general articles, aviation medicine and maintenance articles, and a close-call section written by pilots who share their experiences in the name of safety. Order a copy of the magazine now.
- Feedback has strongly supported proposed changes to helicopter licensing requirements in relation to the 105 hour training option for the commercial helicopter pilot licence. Consultation on the proposal attracted 63 submissions. CASA will now make changes to the licensing regulations, with an amendment required to Part 61 of Civil Aviation Safety Regulations before 31 August 2018. Legislative instruments could be made to give effect to the proposals. Read the responses and next steps.
- The 30 April 2018 deadline for air operators and Part 141 certificate holders to submit draft operations manual changes or apply for a fatigue risk management system in preparation for transition to new fatigue rules has been removed. A new transition deadline will be announced soon. The decision to remove the deadline was foreshadowed in December 2017 due to the ongoing independent review of fatigue rules. Both CASA and the aviation community will require more time to respond to the final review findings, which are scheduled to be delivered to CASA in March 2018.
- Radio communication requirements for gliding operations in Class E airspace will be updated in the 1 March 2018 Aeronautical Information Package. Unless otherwise authorised, glider pilots in Class E airspace must maintain a listening watch on the appropriate air traffic control frequency. The Gliding Federation of Australia and CASA have worked together to better define the circumstances under which glider pilots can operate off-frequency in Class E. When flying in groups glider pilots can nominate one aircraft to monitor air traffic control and pass on traffic information to other gliders using a discrete glider frequency. Special arrangements can also be made for gliding competitions or events, with authorisation to be provided through a NOTAM issued by Airservices Australia. These practices are commonly used by glider pilots flying in Class E airspace already and the updated advice formalises the procedures.
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