Enforcement action

In some cases, we may take enforcement action when we find that people aren't following the rules.

We have a range of enforcement options we can use, depending on the circumstances.

The considerations which CASA takes into account in determining when and how to utilise its enforcement related powers are explained in our Regulatory Philosophy and our Enforcement Manual.

The enforcement options available to CASA are:

Enforceable voluntary undertakings

We use enforceable voluntary undertakings when someone has broken the rules but it's more appropriate for us to ask them to fix the problem than it is to take regulatory action to vary, suspend or cancel their civil aviation authorisation.

As the name suggests, these arrangements are voluntary. People or organisations can withdraw them or change them, with our agreement. However, when someone agrees to an undertaking, they are legally bound to comply with it. If they don’t, we can ask the Federal Court to make orders to enforce the undertaking and/or to impose a pecuniary penalty on them relating to the breach of the undertaking.

By law, we must publish details of these undertakings on our website.

Administrative action

Where there has been a serious breach of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 or the regulations made under that act, we may take administrative action to vary, suspend or cancel the civil aviation authorisation held by the person who committed the breach.

For example, CASA may vary, suspend or cancel the Air Operator’s Certificate of an air operator who engages in a serious breach or breaches of the aviation legislation.

Before taking this sort of action we invite the effected authorisation holder to tell us why they think we should not vary, suspend or cancel their authorisation. As part of this process, we set out clearly, all of the facts and circumstances which have caused us to consider that variation, suspension or cancellation is warranted.

Serious and imminent risks to safety

We can act immediately to suspend the privileges of a person or organisation to engage in an aviation activity if that person or organisation is operating in a way that creates a serious and imminent risk to aviation safety. This can include suspending someone’s permission to fly.

When we do this, we must apply to the Federal Court within 5 days for the suspension to continue if we require further time to investigate.

Prosecution

Serious breaches of the Civil Aviation Act and the Regulations may involve the commission of a criminal offence. CASA may investigate suspected breaches, and if they are considered sufficiently serious, may refer them to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of criminal prosecution. This is usually done in cases involving breaches that:

  • are deliberate
  • show a reckless disregard for the rules
  • show a pattern of disregard for the rules
  • cause a significant risk to safety including by putting other people in danger.

Aviation Infringement Notices and demerit points

Aviation Infringement Notices (AIN) are an alternative to prosecution and are generally only used for strict liability offences under the regulations.

If someone is served with an AIN for an offence and pays the fine, they may incur demerit points against their relevant civil aviation authorisation for that offence but will not be subject to further criminal proceedings. They can, however, choose to have the matter dealt with by a court rather than paying the AIN.

Demerit points are accumulated for various breaches of the rules. If you accumulate or exceed the maximum number of demerit points within a certain period, your relevant civil aviation authorisation may be suspended or cancelled.

Appeal rights

People and organisations are able to appeal certain of our enforcement related decisions to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or the Federal Court.

Back to top of page