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Annual Report 2005-06: From the Chief Executive Officer

From the Chief Executive Officer

 

Bruce Byron, CEO

For CASA, 2005–06 has been a year of significant change and substantial achievement.

Our focus on the safety of the travelling public has guided a carefully planned reform program designed to produce a more efficient, effective and responsive safety regulator, well placed to deliver better aviation safety outcomes. The results of the reforms are beginning to emerge.

Perhaps the most visible element of the reform program is the progressive relocation of almost all CASA’s operational resources out of head office in Canberra to locations closer to the aviation industry. We have created a new headquarters for the Air Transport Operations Group in Brisbane, consolidated the existing Brisbane-based headquarters of the General Aviation Operations Group, and established new operational positions in our field offices throughout Australia. Additionally, we have created new operational roles such as field safety advisers and systems safety specialists. They are based near to where industry operates, and tasked to work in close contact with industry. These initiatives honour my undertaking to get more of our operational staff out of the office and ‘on the tarmac’, and will enable us to keep in better touch with day-to-day safety and to be more responsive to the safety-related issues affecting the aviation industry. Aviation industry leaders have welcomed the new arrangements.

Expanding CASA’s capacity to take a proactive role in identifying and acting on safety issues has been a vital part of our reforms. We have increased the focus on risk within the aviation industry, and on providing industry with the support and tools it needs to help it manage those risks. For example, an analysis of aviation accident data shows that the highest risk of accidents is in the low-capacity regular public transport sector and charter operations. To assist this sector of the industry to address its risks, CASA has begun a program of special reviews of smaller passenger-carrying air operators. This program will be run in addition to existing surveillance programs. In effect, CASA is providing an additional layer of audit and surveillance of the sector, and offering industry a wider view of emerging risks and ways to manage those risks.

We are also taking a fresh approach to developing aviation safety rules, which historically have not fully recognised the great technological advances that have taken place in aviation. The modern aviation industry does not need a heavy-handed and prescriptive regulator, and the regulatory framework needs to change to reflect this. CASA is currently working in consultation with aviation industry stakeholders to develop rules that focus on safety risks and outcomes. This essentially European model offers large improvements over the processes that have been used in the past. An industry–CASA team has been developing the new maintenance suite of regulations, which, although drawing from European regulations, recognises unique Australian conditions. This new way of tackling the difficult task of regulatory reform highlights an important truth in aviation safety, that providing a safe aviation system is not solely the responsibility of the regulator, or of the aviation industry—it is the combined responsibility of both, and there is a need for CASA and the industry to work in unison to identify, minimise and manage risk.

CASA’s relationship with the aviation industry is not limited to safety surveillance, enforcement, education and training. We also provide a wide range of regulatory services. A significant milestone in improving CASA’s service delivery to industry has been the establishment during the year of the CASA Licensing and Registration Centre—known as CLARC—which coordinates and delivers regulatory services to pilots, engineers, aircraft owners, and others in the aviation industry. In the past this work was done by CASA’s field offices and, even with the best efforts by our staff, this inevitably led to inconsistencies in the levels of service we were providing. CLARC offers a ‘one stop shop’ to people in the aviation industry, as well as improving job tracking and reporting, in much the same way as the CASA Service Centre, operational since 2001, has simplified processes for all Air Operator Certificate and Certificate of Approval services for general aviation. Already, CLARC has helped us to identify service delivery weaknesses and to develop workable solutions. Without the establishment of CLARC, CASA could not have met the many challenges involved in issuing thousands of Aviation Security Identification Cards in the early months of 2006.

Finding new and better ways to deliver services is not a task that sits easily with our core safety responsibilities. Accordingly, I decided during the year to create a new high-level role within CASA with a particular focus on service delivery. The Deputy CEO Strategy and Support will bring together all the work we are doing to improve regulatory service delivery to the aviation industry, and will be a spearhead for an even more rigorous approach to CASA’s forward planning and strategic development.

During the year, CASA also tackled the other end of the service delivery spectrum—complaints and appeals. The Industry Complaints Commissioner was appointed to examine complaints against CASA that cannot be resolved through normal channels. The commissioner is an experienced senior manager who reports directly to me and is independent of the line areas of CASA. This ensures that complaints against CASA are reviewed without fear or favour, that recommendations for remedial action are considered at the highest levels, and that required changes are implemented with the full backing of the leadership team.

These examples make up only a small part of our ongoing reform initiatives, but they are indicative of the direction we are taking.

I would like to thank all CASA staff for their contribution to what has been a year of hard work and achievement. We have seen real and practical change to resources, operational procedures and service delivery. At times, these very necessary reforms have placed great demands on individuals and for some there have been difficult career decisions to be made. I congratulate all our people, who have maintained a dedicated and professional approach to their responsibilities notwithstanding the inevitable pressures of a change environment. For many, the reforms have created new opportunities and challenges, and that is important in developing a spirit of renewal and revitalisation.

The strategic direction of the new CASA is now firmly established, our efficiency and effectiveness are growing, and our professional relationship with the aviation industry is moving to a more mature level. Most importantly, we have a clear strategy for the delivery of significantly better aviation safety outcomes. Together with the aviation industry, we share the very serious responsibility of ensuring that our skies are safe. I believe CASA is well placed to meet that challenge.

 

Bruce Byron AM

Director of Aviation Safety

and Chief Executive Officer