Aircraft owners & operators - Answers to common questions
Answers to common questions
Why did the Australian aviation industry want changes to the AFM regulations?
Industry had been experiencing significant delays waiting for CASA approvals for AFMs and AFM changes. Both industry and CASA wanted to speed up the process.
The new AFM system removes the requirement for additional CASA approvals for AFMs and AFM changes which have already been approved by a foreign National Airworthiness Authority (NAA).
The old system
Practically all Australian registered aircraft are imported. The foreign NAA approved the initial issue of the Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM) and approves any AFM amendments that the maker issues.
Before August 1999, CASA had to approve every foreign NAA approved AFM, and every NAA approved change to an AFM, before the AFM could be used for an Australian aircraft. Also, an approved AFM or an AFM supplement could not be used for an individual aircraft unless it had received a further approval from the relevant local CASA office.
CASA's workload controlling AFMs and AFM changes grew to the point that the Australian aviation industry experienced long delays, causing the industry extra costs waiting for the required CASA approvals. If a maker's AFM change corrected an unsafe condition, a delay waiting for CASA's approval could compromise safety.
Under the old system, many light aircraft have been required to have the uniquely Australian, so-called 'Civil Mk 1' (single engine) or 'Civil Mk 2' (two engines) AFMs that CASA prepared, approved, issued and amended. This additional AFM information was not required by the NAA of the foreign country from which the aircraft was exported. Under the new system, the maker's AFM (if required) must be used.
What AFM information is now required under the new AFM system?
The AFM information required under the new AFM system is:
- The maker's approved basic AFM (unless a basic AFM is not required) kept up to date with approved AFM amendments issued by the maker.
- Approved AFM supplements required for any modifications, non-standard aircraft configurations, special role equipment or other special purposes.
- Any temporary AFM change mandated by a CASA Airworthiness Directive (AD). An AFM change by AD is rare - if such an AD is issued, in most cases the AD will include a requirement that a copy of the AD be kept with the AFM.
The relevant NAA approved the basic AFM supplied with the new aircraft.
The maker takes responsibility for the information in that AFM, subsequent AFM amendments, and some approved AFM supplements.
Who is legally responsible for the AFM under the new AFM system?
The registration holder for an Australian aircraft is legally responsible for ensuring that the Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM) for the aircraft is up-to-date as of 16 August 2002, and is kept up-to-date and relevant to the aircraft and its operations.
The registration holder must arrange to include any changes or supplements to the AFM which are required by:
- The aircraft's Type Certificate (TC) holder (the maker).
- Modifications to the aircraft (e.g. different engines).
- Special purpose equipment fitted to the aircraft (e.g. aerial spraying booms, floats).
- Special operations (e.g. door-off operations, narrow runway operations).
It is then the legal responsibility of the operator and pilot of the aircraft to ensure that the up-to-date AFM supplied by the registration holder is carried on board the aircraft, and the pilot complies with the AFM.
The registration holder can have another person carry out the administrative function of keeping the AFM up-to-date and relevant to the aircraft and its operations.
For example, the AFM can be maintained by the aircraft operator, or a maintenance organisation, on behalf of the certificate of registration holder. Nevertheless, the legal responsibility for maintaining the currency and relevance of the flight manual remains with the registration holder. This ultimate responsibility cannot be delegated.
What if you can't get the AFM from the maker?
The registration holder should make enquiries in writing to the aircraft's maker (current TC holder) as well as the relevant aircraft type enthusiasts' club(s) or other credible sources of information on the aircraft.
If the basic AFM cannot be obtained by this process, the registration holder should contact CASA in writing, providing copies of the relevant correspondence. Write to the Team Leader, Airworthiness, at your relevant local CASA office. CASA will then try to resolve the problem.
If the current Type Certificate (TC) holder cannot be found, the aircraft's continuing airworthiness may be at risk. The registration holder should contact CASA in writing, providing copies of the relevant correspondence. CASA will investigate and contact the relevant NAA.
Which is the 'local CASA office' for a registration holder's aircraft?
The relevant 'local CASA office' for an aircraft is usually the CASA area office nearest the airport where the aircraft is based. CASA's 'Aircraft File' for this individual aircraft is kept at this office.
If you are uncertain which is the correct local CASA office, telephone freecall 131 757, ask to be connected to your nearest CASA office, and the staff there will assist. Map of CASA office areas
Can old civil-type AFMs continue to be used?
As a result of the new AFM regulations, CASA no longer prepares, approves, or issues amendments to the AFMs that were, before 16 August 1999, prepared, approved and issued by CASA or its predecessors. Many of these AFMs were in the unique to Australia, so-called 'Civil Mk 1' (single engine) or 'Civil Mk 2' (two engine) format, and kept in an A5 size, black folder. Australian aircraft that have these 'Civil' type AFMs must have the maker's approved basic AFM after 16 August 2002.
These 'civil-type' AFMs may continue as approved AFMs for type certificated aircraft until 16 August 2002 only if the AFM information or the aircraft's CoA does not need to change, because that change will be a trigger to change to the new AFM system .
What about warbirds, amateur-builts, ultralights and other sport aircraft?
Under the new AFM regulations, an Australian aircraft must have the approved basic AFM that relates to the relevant airworthiness standards specified in the Type Certificate (TC) and Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS).
If there is no TC or TC equivalent for an aircraft, there can be no approved basic AFM required for that aircraft. Such an aircraft is therefore not required to have an AFM under the new Australian AFM regulations.
These aircraft are not eligible for a standard certificate of airworthiness (CoA) and do not require an AFM. They include:
- Ex-military aircraft.
- Certain civil origin limited-category aircraft.
- Aircraft operating on experimental certificates.
- Amateur-built aircraft and replica aircraft.
- Gyroplanes and ultralight aircraft.
- Hang gliders, powered hang gliders, weightshift aircraft & powered parachutes.
An AFM is not available or required for these aircraft, but registration holders are still expected to provide the pilot with all the information and instructions that are necessary to operate the aircraft safely. The registration holder should choose a manual or placards to provide this information.
For an ex-military aircraft, or a limited-category aircraft of civil origin, it is the manual or document previously provided for the pilot by the manufacturer or defence organisation that should be used to provide the necessary information and instructions. A statement identifying the required document should be written on the aircraft's Certificate of Airworthiness (CoA).
For aircraft operating on an experimental certificate, amateur-built or other sport aircraft, the manual or document provided for the pilot by the designer or manufacturer should be used for the required information and instructions.
Alternatively, a pilot's manual that is in a professional looking, user-friendly format can be prepared and customised for the aircraft. The 'GAMA' POH format is recommended for aircraft under 5700kg. An existing GAMA format POH for a popular, type certificated light aircraft may be used as a model.
From 16 August 1999, CASA has not supported the 'Civil Mk 1' or 'Civil Mk 2' type AFMs that were previously prepared, approved and issued by CASA or its predecessors. After 16 August 2002, these 'civil-type' AFMs are no longer approved for these types of aircraft. If the registration holder is satisfied that the information in the 'civil-type' AFM is sufficient to operate these aircraft safely, then that information may be may be provided to the pilot in another document.