Annual Report 2006-07: Strategic relationships
- Portfolio agencies
- Aviation Safety Forum
- Standards Consultative Committee
- Industry consultation forums
CASA aims to maintain effective and cordial working relationships with the Department of Transport and Regional Services, including the ATSB, and with Airservices Australia.
The Aviation Safety Forum continued its work as CASA’s strategic advisory body on aviation safety, examining issues referred to it by CASA or raised by forum members. The forum is chaired by a senior industry person and is broadly representative of the aviation industry. It is also a source of specialist expertise in areas such as passenger transport and safety, engineering, general aviation and aviation medicine. Airservices Australia and the Department of Defence are also represented, and the Department of Transport and Regional Services has observer status.
In 2006–07, the forum examined a number of strategic issues, including:
- changes to CASA’s structure and regulatory reform
- flight instructor competency and the validity timeframes of examination results
- governance arrangements in general aviation organisations
- cost recovery.
The forum also advised on issues such as the regulation of aviation meteorological services, service-level standards, and the relationship between portfolio agencies.
During the year, Mr Ken Keech, an inaugural member, and Dr Raoul Tunbridge retired from the forum, having made significant contributions to its work.
The current chair, appointed in February 2006, is Mr John Raby. Two new members were appointed during the year, Dr Heather Parker and Ms Pamela Graham.
The SCC brings together representatives from a diverse range of aviation industry groups to work with CASA on regulatory change. Thirty-nine organisations are represented on the main committee, which is industry chaired. More than 200 CASA and industry participants are involved in the SCC and its six subcommittees. CASA considers the commitment, effort and coordination involved delivers significant benefits.
The SCC’s principal task is to consider safety regulatory issues in relation to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, amendments to the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 and Civil Aviation Orders, manuals of standards and advisory circulars.
CASA is committed to—and highly values—consultation with the aviation industry in its regulatory development process, through the SCC and its subcommittees. Both CASA and the aviation industry have a common goal and have much to gain from the engagement of technically competent, highly experienced and diversely qualified individuals. This involvement enables CASA to deliver aviation safety regulations that are contemporary and practical, reflect industry best practice, and are capable of responding to changes in the industry in the future.
The objectives of the SCC are to:
- consider regulatory proposals that have been submitted by CASA, with a view to deciding whether a proposal is worthy of consideration and, if so, to recommend a level of priority for the regulatory work involved
- identify individual industry experts to work with CASA staff on the development of regulatory proposals. These experts are identified through the aviation industry members of the SCC.
In addition, the SCC is a source of information to CASA about the aviation industry. Through the SCC, the industry informs CASA of developments that have an impact on the industry and any safety issues requiring action. This ensures that the diverse yet significant needs of each industry sector are recognised and respected during the rule-making process.
The SCC also serves as a forum for consultation on a broad range of issues relating to CASA’s responsibilities. The SCC provides input to, and endorses the work of, special working groups established for particular purposes, such as to work on CEO directives. At the request of the CASA CEO, the SCC is tasked from time to time with considering technical aspects of specific CEO directives. This assists the CEO by having specific aspects of CEO directives examined for their appropriateness, completeness, clarity, and benefit to aviation safety. The SCC receives feedback from CASA on how CASA has managed SCC recommendations, so that the decision-making process is open, transparent and accountable.
The SCC also considers decisions from its subcommittees, establishes processes and procedures for the subcommittees and helps resolve conflicting industry views arising between subcommittees.
In summary, the SCC provides a forum where CASA and the aviation industry can raise and exchange new ideas, test new initiatives and discuss future developments. This enables both CASA and the industry to keep abreast of industry trends and issues and to be well placed to commence planning for development of new standards or regulations that might be required.
Activities in 2006–07
The SCC met three times during 2006–07. Some of the key issues considered were:
- progress in development of the maintenance regulations project, reclassification of aviation activities and the ‘Alcohol and other drugs testing for safety-sensitive personnel’ project
- various amendments to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 and Civil Aviation Orders
- action to issue CEO Directives 001/2007 and 003/2006.
The SCC also reviewed eight notice of final rule making and notice of proposed rule making consultation documents before they were issued.
Further information about the SCC (including its membership, subcommittees, meetings and activities) is provided on CASA’s website at <www.casa.gov.au/newrules/scc>.
The inaugural CASA–industry consultation forum was held in March 2007 in Melbourne, and the second in June in Sydney. The CEO and Deputy CEO addressed these forums and each was well attended.
The forums provide an opportunity for senior industry personnel to hear from, and provide feedback to, the CASA executive on issues of strategic importance to aviation safety.
Flight simulation is serious business for CASA
Flight simulators help pilots prepare to fly new or unfamiliar types of aircraft, to test themselves or have their skills evaluated—all while remaining safely on the ground. In technical parlance, flight simulators are systems used for training pilots and are made up of a motion base, a full-size cockpit, an aerodynamic package and a visual and sound system—everything needed to provide an artificial flight deck environment that is as realistic as possible.
There are 24 simulators in Australia, each worth around $20 million. CASA must conduct evaluation tests on new flight simulators, and annual tests are also required on each simulator, carried out by either a CASA evaluator or an evaluator approved by CASA.
Evaluating a simulator involves undertaking virtual flights, and these can be much more challenging than normal routine flights in actual aircraft. A wide range of scenarios can be created for the simulator crew, including major or minor malfunctions during a simulated flight. It’s all part of the business of making sure a flight simulator meets the exacting standards required for crew training and evaluation.
But simulated flights are only part of the process. The paperwork alone is a major undertaking, as CASA officers must first evaluate a highly technical ‘qualification test guide’, which can be up to 3,500 pages in length.
An on-site evaluation is then conducted to ensure that the performance of the simulator matches that of the actual aircraft. The simulator must accurately reflect a real aircraft to be suitable for advanced training, because some pilots go straight from the simulator to flying a real aircraft without any further training.
For example, a simulated flight from Melbourne to Sydney in real time might involve scenarios such as taking off and landing in crosswinds and low visibility, as well as instrument approaches.
The introduction of new aircraft to Australian skies in the near future will oblige CASA to evaluate the relevant flight simulators. These include simulators for the Airbus A380, the Boeing 737-800, the Embraer 170/190, the Boeing 787 and the A380 maintenance/flight training device.