Annual Report 2006-07: Initiatives, developments and issues in 2006
Initiatives, developments and issues in 2006–07
- Introduction of a safety systems specialist capability
- Improvements in industry oversight
- Improvements in overseeing foreign operators
- Participation in international task force
- New rules for use of air traffic control equipment
- Aeronautical information services
- Transition to Global Navigation Satellite System
- Improvements in business processes
CASA recruited three safety systems specialists who attended the inaugural ICAO safety management systems course in Montreal in July 2006. Following this course, the specialists introduced the safety management systems concept into the Air Transport Operations Group’s processes, using operator risk assessment models as another tool for more effectively overseeing the industry.
The safety systems specialists have skills and experience in system safety. They have been highly effective in identifying areas for improvements of organisational systems and have provided a valuable insight into systemic issues within the industry. One output from this initiative was the creation of the new role of air transport inspector.
Air transport inspectors are individuals with system auditing experience and will be based in the front line at CASA field offices, in order to lead multidisciplinary audits of operators. An initial group of air transport inspectors were recruited this financial year. Funds provided under the new policy proposal (approved by the Government in the 2007–08 Budget) will allow the recruitment of additional staff with safety systems skills in 2007–08.
Improved aviation safety:
New experts increase CASA’s capability
CASA’s newly recruited air transport inspectors and safety systems specialists will help usher in an era of greater flexibility in our workforce at a time when Australia’s aviation operations are becoming more complex.
‘The new inspectors join CASA to help ensure we remain dynamic and responsive to an evolving and altering industry, and are even more comprehensively equipped to perform our roles,’ says CASA CEO Bruce Byron.
‘The inspectors are currently undergoing intensive training in preparation for getting out in the field. The appointment and induction of the inspectors is a significant step for CASA.’
The new experts will finish their induction training and start operating in the field later this year. It is expected that a second group of air transport inspectors will be appointed in the coming months to further boost capability and field office numbers.
CASA believes the more comprehensive and extended oversight resulting from the addition of air transport inspectors and safety systems specialists to CASA’s surveillance capability will lead to improved aviation safety.
They will provide strategic advice on the implementation of a systems approach to aviation safety, and encourage the aviation industry take up effective safety management systems and processes more rapidly than in the past.
The induction training for the inspectors will include the International Civil Aviation Organization safety management systems course, ISO 9000 lead auditor training, CASA human factors training and the CASA administrative induction course.
The air transport inspectors will eventually act as lead auditors in the majority of audits, allowing technical inspectors to focus more on their specialist areas.
Safety systems specialists will lead systems audits and take responsibility for the broad oversight of the safety performance of aviation operators.
This will allow existing technical specialists in flying operations, airworthiness and cabin safety to concentrate on their areas of expertise.
During the year CASA worked hard to improve the effectiveness of its industry oversight processes. Inspectors have increased the frequency of their surveillance, either at short notice or without notice, of flight decks, hangars and aircraft on the ramp. The emphasis in these visits is not only on uncovering regulatory breaches but also on critically examining normal operations for safety issues. In addition to traditional audit activities, inspectors are now spending more time in the field carrying out ‘no notice’ operational surveillance. Considerable effort has been put into developing a more sophisticated suite of tools for use under the industry oversight project.
On 18 May 2007, CASA conducted a large-scale simultaneous surveillance of airports and air transport operators in Cairns, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Avalon and Melbourne. The event was called ‘the big day out’ and was designed to give CASA positive exposure with the aviation industry and the public. In accordance with CASA’s new approach to regulatory reform, the activities of ‘the big day out’ focused on specific areas of study and were underpinned by CASA’s emphasis on the passenger-carrying sector of the industry. Similar operations are being planned for the future.
A number of foreign air transport operators, many of them freight-only concerns, are showing increased interest in operating into Australia on a long-term or ad hoc basis. There has been increasing international concern that some countries are not adequately overseeing the safety standards of their operators; however, CASA has been vigilant in ensuring that safety is not compromised. CASA has developed a plan for structured yearly ramp inspections of foreign operators, which will be implemented in 2007–08.
CASA, together with five other countries or international agencies, was invited to be a member of the ICAO Task Force on the Improvement of the Air Operator Certificate. The task force was set up in the light of international concern about the oversight standards of some countries and the need for ICAO to provide more explicit direction on the issue of air operator’s certificates to facilitate their mutual recognition. The task force also recommended the application of ICAO standards and standard procedures as the baseline for a country’s acceptance of another country’s certification.
The task force held two meetings, but the majority of its deliberations were carried out through email discussion. The task force’s recommendations, including draft changes to ICAO documents, were passed to the Air Navigation Commission in June 2007. They incorporated new air operator’s certificate procedures, including the use of standardised authorisations, conditions and limitations.
Air traffic management in Australia has traditionally made extensive use of voice position reporting by pilots for both ground-based and aircraft-to-aircraft surveillance, with radar coverage limited to areas around major cities and the major air routes on the east coast. In the last few years, trials of automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) have proven that this new technology is not only viable but also a much more cost-effective alternative to radar for air traffic control surveillance. It is also promising as a new airborne surveillance capability in the cockpit.
Airservices Australia is currently rolling out ADS-B ground stations across Australia to provide high-performance surveillance services for air traffic control outside the coverage of the existing radar network. When all planned ground stations are installed in the next year, there will be ADS-B coverage of the Australian continent above 30,000 feet, with significant coverage also at lower levels.
CASA published new rules for the carriage and use of ADS-B equipment in aircraft in June 2007, together with guidance for operational and technical standards to ensure the safe use of the ADS-B technology. The objectives are:
- to improve air traffic management safety and make its associated economic benefits available to all airspace users through facilitation of ADS-B services in Australia
- to provide clear, simple and practical standards and regulations for the carriage and use of ADS-B avionics.
The rules do not, however, mandate the fitting of ADS-B equipment in Australian-registered or foreign-registered aircraft.
Modern passenger aircraft have computer-based flight management systems for the storage of data and the control of much of the cockpit functionality of the aircraft. Databases used by the flight management system computers in aircraft are provided throughout the world by the aeronautical information services of aviation nations.
The availability and integrity of this information, mainly held on electronic data cards, is an important safety consideration. The worldwide trend is for aviation information databases to be available on interconnected electronic networks. CASA has been active in several international forums that are establishing standards and protocols to ensure the integrity of the databases.
CASA completed and published standards and a new set of rules for ‘primary means’ aircraft navigation using approved Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in Aeronautical Information. We also revised the associated guidance material (CAAP 179A) covering technical and operational aspects of this development, which permits aircraft to navigate solely by GNSS—subject to certain precautions and to compliance with GNSS equipment fitment requirements. We also developed a pilot handbook to form the basis of industry training programmes that support the new standards.
CASA has also been closely involved in the oversight of two other GNSS technologies that are under development and assessment by Airservices Australia. These are the GNSS Landing System (GLS) being operationally trialled at Sydney Airport, and the Ground-based Regional Augmentation System (GRAS) being developed to provide an augmented Global Positioning System service over the whole of the continent. GLS will eventually provide a high-precision landing system that could cost-effectively replace existing instrument landing systems, while GRAS may provide area and precision guidance similar to the satellite-based augmentation system that has been provided by the US Federal Aviation Administration.
A new ICAO standard approach to landing procedure—Required Navigation Performance – Authorisation Required (RNP-AR), an aircraft augmentation system available on B737-800 series aircraft—was trialled and approved. The new approach employs highly sophisticated GNSS augmentation systems that reside within the avionics and aircraft flight management systems. They ensure the accuracy and integrity necessary to safely provide for lower minima approaches at aerodromes in Australia and New Zealand that are not served by an instrument landing system.
CASA has made progress in improving the effectiveness of its business processes, including:
- improvements to its management of various incident reporting systems
- the adoption of quality-assured business processes
- the development of risk management and business plans
- the review of instructions to staff.
More work to further improve performance in these areas is planned for 2007–08.