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Project OS 13/25 - Safety Standards for community service flights conducted on a voluntary basis
In August 2008 CASA commenced initial meetings with community flight organisations about the proposed CASR operational regulations suite and sought their feedback on their current practices.
In 2011, a tragic accident occurred involving a CSF. In 2013, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) published its report (AO-2011-100) on the accident with a number of safety recommendations. In August 2014, CASA published Discussion Paper (DP) 13170S. The DP sought responses from the aviation community to assist CASA in considering regulatory and/or non-regulatory options for enhancing the safety of CSFs under the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR). The DP outlined ten options. CASA’s preferred option was to introduce a Community Service Flight (CSF) Approved Self-administering Aviation Organisation (ASAO) (option 5) and the second preference was the introduction of a of a pilot registration system with specific pilot experience and training requirements, operational limitations and minimum aircraft standards (a combination of options 3, 4, 7, 8, and 9).
There were 98 responses to the DP with opposition to the options presented from multiple parties. Following the consultation CASA advised that no further action be taken but CASA would continue to evaluate the necessity for action in the future.
Following another CSF accident in 2017, CASA encouraged charitable organisations who coordinate CSFs to implement voluntary safety enhancements. However, meaningful safety improvements were not realised.
In December 2018, CASA published CD 1814OS Proposed safety standard – Community Service Flights for industry and community consultation. The consultation document took the form of a draft legislative instrument that placed conditions on pilots who wish to undertake CSF activities. The draft instrument was developed from feedback received from both internal and external stakeholders (external via the responses to DP 1317OS) where it was considered that the applying of limitations on pilot licences was the most appropriate form of safety intervention. Previous ATSB recommendations were considered when drafting the instrument.
The consultation received responses from 233 individuals or organisations—including 115 people who said they were a pilot who had flown a CSF. Responses were evenly split between a group of respondents that did not support any element of the proposal and a combined group of those respondents that partially or fully supported the proposal. Consultation feedback highlighted that some elements of the proposal were disproportionately costly compared to their safety benefits, such as the proposed maintenance requirements. Where indicated, these conditions were reviewed and modified.
The legislative instrument CASA 09/19 Community Service Flights — Conditions on Flight Crew Licences was signed by the Director of Aviation Safety on 12 February 2019 and came into effect on 19 March 2019. An additional legislative instrument (CASA 13/09) was signed by the Director on 08 April 2019 and came into effect on 09 April 2019. This instrument expanded the scope of CASA 09/19 to include the use of helicopters for the conduct of a CSF, in addition to aeroplanes.
The required changes to the AIP have been made via an AIP SUP and additional guidance material for Community Service Flight pilots has been published on CASA’s website.
This project considers how community service flights conducted in the public interest by volunteer pilots and aircraft operators should be regulated.
Community service flights which are potentially open to a wide section of the community are conducted by pilots with varying experience and qualification levels. Similarly, the aircraft involved could vary from an amateur-built experimental aircraft through to a turbine powered corporate aircraft.
As this aviation activity becomes more widely used, the variable pilot qualifications and aircraft certification and maintenance standards become significant potential risk indicators, which CASA must consider and regulate appropriately in order to maintain an acceptable level of safety for the pilots, their passengers and the public.
Date of Publication:
Wednesday, May 22, 2019