CASA's regulatory framework

This page contains information about the legislative framework regulating aviation safety in Australia. This includes the laws that govern CASA, the various civil aviation safety legislation and other advisory documents.

The aviation laws that govern CASA

Two types of laws govern us – primary legislation and delegated legislation.

In practice, we operate within a 3-tier system consisting of:

  1. Civil Aviation Act 1988 and Airspace Act 2007
  2. Civil Aviation Regulations 1988, Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 and Airspace Regulations 2007
  3. Manuals of Standards, Civil Aviation Orders and other legislative instruments.

We also publish guidance on delegated legislation.

This framework supports our need to keep our skies safe in a technical and dynamic area.

Australia aligns its rules with International Civil Aviation organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices.

CASA is progressively migrating and updating rules from the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 as part of our regulation development and reform role.

Primary legislation

Primary legislation refers to laws passed by Parliament and includes:

  • Civil Aviation Act 1988 (CAA)
  • Airspace Act 2007

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development is responsible for the CAA and Airspace Act.

Amendments to these Acts need:

  • Cabinet or the Prime Minister's approval
  • both Houses of Parliament to pass the changes
  • the Governor-General to provide assent.

The Airspace Act requires the Minister to make an 'Australian Airspace Policy Statement'. The statement outlines the government's policy for managing Australian airspace. Reviews occur every 3 years. We do these with The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, Airservices Australia and other relevant entities.

See our obligations under the CAA and Airspace Act in the overview of CASA rulemaking principles and obligations.

Delegated legislation

Delegated legislation refers to legislative instruments issued under the Act. These include:

Delegated legislation is a generic name for regulations and legislative instruments. For example:

  • the Airspace Regulations 2007 are made under the Airspace Act 2007
  • the CAR and CASR, are made under the CAA
  • the MOSs, CAOs and ADs are made under the regulations (some CAOs are also made under the Act).

CASA publishes guidance on delegated legislation.

How delegated instruments become effective

A legislative instrument commences: (a) at the start of the day after the day the instrument is registered, or (b) so far as the instrument provides otherwise –in accordance with such provision.

Once made, a disallowable instrument is tabled in Parliament and then subject to disallowance under the Legislation Act 2003.


The CASR and CAR provide regulatory controls over civil aviation safety. They set out the required safety standards for:

  • airworthiness
  • licences and ratings for flight crew and maintenance personnel
  • air traffic control
  • rules of the air
  • dangerous goods
  • other aviation safety issues.

Under section 98 of the CAA, the Governor-General makes regulations after they are endorsed by the Minister. For regulations:

  1. We develop policies and standards, and conduct public consultation.
  2. We give drafting instructions to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC).
  3. OPC prepares draft regulations on the basis of our instructions.
  4. The OPC gives the draft regulations legal clearance (settlement).
  5. The Minister to the Federal Executive Council submits the regulations to the Governor-General.
  6. The Governor-General makes the regulations into law.

See our list of CASR and CAR.

CASR regulatory structure

This represents all current and proposed Part numbers that make up CASR. CASR Parts still outstanding are shown with dotted inner circle lines.

CASR regulatory structure

Manuals of Standards (MOS)

MOS contain technical material and requirements. They include specifications and applications to complement CASR requirements. They contain standards authorised by particular regulations.

CASA's Legal, International and Regulatory Affairs Division (LIRA) drafts a MOS. The Director of Aviation Safety (DAS) then authorises the MOS.

See our list of MOSs.

Civil Aviation Orders (CAO)

CAOs contain technical detail and requirements to complement those in the CAR.

CAOs are generally authorised under the CAR. But some are made directly under the CAA.

LIRA drafts CAOs and the DAS signs them.

See our list of CAOs.

Airworthiness Directives (AD)

Part 39 of CASR authorises CASA to issue ADs. We use ADs for types of aircraft or aeronautical products when an unsafe condition:

  • exists in an aircraft or aeronautical product
  • is likely to exist in that aircraft or aeronautical product
  • could develop in other aircraft or aeronautical products of that kind.

Our technical specialists draft ADs. Delegates in our Airworthiness and Engineering Standards Branch sign them.

See our list of Airworthiness Directives

Advisory documents

We also publish other documents that are advisory rather than legislative in effect. These publications explain the intent and purpose of the legislation. They also explain how to comply with it.

Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material (AMC/GM)

AMCs help applicants meet requirements contained in the CASR. These requirements relate to a certificate, licence, permission, approval or other authorisation.

The AMC sets out acceptable methods of demonstrating compliance with a regulation. An AMC is not binding on industry applicants. Participants are free to submit alternative methods of compliance.

But, if you follow an AMC, you will meet the associated regulatory requirements. We are then obliged to issue the requested authorisation.

We sometimes publish guidance material (GM) with an AMC. The AMC/GM is a single document that relates to a specific regulatory provision. We publish AMC/GMs on our website.

Our specialists draft AMC/GMs in conjunction with experts and practitioners from industry. They are not disallowable legislative instruments for the purposes of the Legislation Act 2003.

See our list of AMC/GM.

Other advisory material

We also issue other advisory publications that:

  • explain the intent of the legislation
  • provide context for the legislation
  • explain how to apply the legislation.

Advisory publications issued by CASA include:

Our technical specialists draft these publications to offer interpretative and explanatory guidance. They are not disallowable legislative instruments for the purposes of the Legislation Act 2003.

Last updated:
22 Feb 2023
Online version available at:
Back to top of page