From CEO and Director of Aviation Safety, Mark Skidmore
Change is happening at CASA. The pace of change may not be as fast as some would prefer, but real change is underway. Like any worthwhile task everything cannot be achieved at once and foundations must be laid before the structure can be constructed. This month I outlined the progress CASA is making in building a new and improved organisation to meet the safety regulatory needs of the aviation community and the Australian public. Of course, an important part of this process is delivering on the Government response to the recommendations of the Aviation Safety Regulation Review. In my keynote address to the CHC Safety and Quality Summit I gave an assurance there will be no turning back from our commitment to CASA’s new regulatory philosophy, the application of ‘just culture’ principles, investing in a safety partnership with the aviation community, communication and meaningful consultation.
One of the keys to successful change is getting CASA’s people to understand they are one part of a much larger aviation safety system. We do not hold all the knowledge and we need to form safety partnerships across industry, agencies, regulators and the global aviation community. There must be an environment where we can all work together to enhance the safety of the aviation environment we enjoy today. Our aim is to keep people flying and flying safely.
A lot of work is underway to implement a ‘just culture’ approach in CASA. We are developing a regulatory and operational environment where genuinely honest mistakes are recognised for what they are and are used as an opportunity for further learning and improvement. CASA’s response will be to understand why the mistakes were made and how we can reduce the likelihood the same mistakes will occur in the future. I consider this approach as a fundamental shift from our recent past and we need to recognise a cultural change in both CASA and the aviation community is required to harvest the real benefits of this concept. This is a challenge for us but we are working hard to meet the challenge.
Please read my speech to the CHC Summit.
Radio frequency discussion paper
A discussion paper is to be released to canvass issues relating to radio frequency use by pilots operating by the visual flight rules in uncontrolled airspace. This follows a teleconference between CASA and Regional Airspace and Procedures Advisory Committee conveners in April 2016. The meeting was called by CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety Mark Skidmore after continued debate in the aviation community about the most appropriate frequency to choose when operating outside controlled airspace at or near aerodromes not marked on aeronautical charts. CASA has previously advised that the most appropriate frequency to use in class G airspace at or near unmarked aerodromes is the VHF area frequency. However, some pilots are still using the multicom frequency 126.7 which may be causing some confusion. The discussion paper will be released during 2016 and CASA will be looking for everyone from sports pilots to regular public transport operators to comment on the issues. CASA will carefully consider all viewpoints before reaching a final position on the most appropriate frequency use in class G airspace. Until the consultation process is finalised CASA urges all pilots to follow the current advice on frequency choice in class G airspace which is to use the VHF area frequency.
Find the advisory information on operations at non-controlled aerodromes.
Project to cut maintenance rules red tape
Maintainers and operators of small aircraft are set to benefit from a review of maintenance and airworthiness related Civil Aviation Regulations. CASA has set up a project with the aim of simplifying the regulations, cutting red tape and reducing compliance burdens. Updating and simplifying the maintenance and airworthiness Civil Aviation Regulations is expected to cut aviation industry costs. The review is needed as the Civil Aviation Regulations will continue to be used for some time until new small aircraft maintenance provisions are introduced into the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations. Feedback from the maintenance sector has highlighted a need to simplify and rationalise the current regulations so they reflect up-to-date aviation practices and technology. In addition to reviewing the regulations CASA will develop associated guidance material. While CASA will be seeking further input from maintainers and operators of small aircraft on how the current regulations can be improved, a number of areas have already been identified for action. These include clarification that the registered operator is responsible for managing the continuing airworthiness of an aircraft, making the maintainer only responsible for completing the maintenance ordered by the operator, updating provisions for pilot maintenance and updating the rules covering welding, non-destructive inspections, weight control and loading.
Mud wasps a real risk to aircraft
An updated warning has been issued by CASA about the dangers of mud wasp infestation of aircraft. It can take mud wasps as little as 20 minutes to build a significant nest which can block a pitot tube, vent or drain. In 2013 an Airbus A330 had a rejected take-off in Brisbane due to an airspeed indication failure which was only detected during the take-off roll. During the subsequent inspection it was found the captain’s pitot probe was almost totally obstructed by an insect nest, consistent with mud-dauber wasp nest residue. The residue was built up while the aircraft was on the ground over a two hour period parked at the loading gate. The pitot probe covers were not installed by maintenance staff during this time. Between 2010 and 2015, CASA received approximately 20 service difficulty reports detailing departure gate delays, aborted take-offs and air turn-back occurrences due to wasp nest infestations in the pitot tubes of large aircraft in Australia. There have been reports from overseas of fatal accidents which have been attributed to wasp nests blocking the pitot tube, resulting in loss of airspeed indication.
Mud wasps are equally a risk to smaller aircraft. A recent investigation found a number of wasp nests inside the wing of a Cessna 182, in the cavity formed between the rear spar and the flap fairing. There was also one large wasp nest entirely suspended on the flight control cables in the rear fuselage. CASA makes five recommendations about mud wasps including installing approved fuel vent screens or removable drain/vent covers and engine compartment blanks, as well as installing tight fitting pitot/static vent covers.
Streamlined processes for ASIC/AVIC cards
CASA will soon be introducing streamlined processing for Aviation Security Identification Cards (ASICs) and Aviation Identification (AVIDs). As of 23 May 2016 all applications will be processed and issued by CASA’s service provider Aviation ID Australia. The requirements for applying for the cards will not change. All contact regarding ASIC/AVID applications and renewals should be made to Aviation ID Australia by calling 1300 721 241 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on the cards, including the application and renewal process and access to the application forms, will remain available through the CASA website, with new forms to be made available as of 23 May 2016.
Find out more about ASIC and AVID cards.
New guidelines for helicopter pilot maintenance
A new set of guidelines has been released for pilot maintenance of class B piston engine helicopters. Class B aircraft are not certified to transport category standards or used in regular public transport operations. The guidelines provide a sample 50 hourly checklist, which includes an example of a maintenance release. CASA identified the need for the information during recent surveillance of remote helicopter operations. It was evident some operators required guidance on the requirements on how to correctly certify for the 50 hourly inspection and unscheduled maintenance on their rotorcraft. Helicopter 50 hourly inspections may also require the completion of specific engine service instructions. CASA recommends that pilots follow the guidelines along with the limitations and instructions provided within CASA Schedule 8, which is contained in the Civil Aviation Regulations. Schedule 8 sets out the maintenance a pilot is permitted to carry out on a class B aircraft. Pilots must obtain an approval from their local CASA office prior to performing any maintenance activities not specified in Schedule 8. The sample 50 hourly check list covers approved data and parts, tools, defects, record keeping and recurring maintenance.
Comment now on fatigue rule proposals
Further consultation is underway on proposed changes to the new rules covering fatigue management for flight crew. The package of proposed changes will reduce the costs of complying with the new fatigue rules and lessen the impact on operations. If adopted the amendments to Civil Aviation Order 48.1 would allow more air operators to use the most basic prescriptive fatigue limitations rather than the more complex ‘tier 2’ appendices . It would also means these operators would not have to develop a full fatigue risk management system. The option of using a fatigue risk management system will still be available. Proposed changes include introducing new sets of fatigue limitations available to medical transport and emergency service operations, ballooning operations and for daylight only aerial work operations such as helicopter mustering. Each set will take into account the specific operating characteristics of these sectors. These proposals were developed by CASA after extensive consultation with each sector. Other proposals are clarifying that in-flight rest facilities must be comfortable enough for flight crew to sleep, a less prescriptive definition of suitable sleeping accommodation for aerial work activities, further clarification of off-duty period requirements and clarifying when the fatigue rules do not apply to private operations. The package of proposed changes follows the earlier adoption of a revised transition period for the new fatigue rules, which requires compliance by 1 May 2017 for organisations that held an air operator’s certificate before the rules took effect.
Workshops to support fatigue rule transition
A series of workshops are being held to support air operators in their transition to the new fatigue rules. The workshops will play a key role in getting operators ready to meet the fatigue deadlines over the next year. By no later than 31 October 2016 air operators must submit a draft and updated operations manual taking into account the new fatigue rules or an application for a fatigue risk management system. This is to allow adequate time to make the transition to the new rules by the 1 May 2017 deadline. To help operators CASA is running workshops at multiple locations from May to July 2016. Each one-day workshop will include an overview of the new fatigue rules, a step-by-step guide to updating an operations manual (including activities to develop an action plan), information on how to work under multiple fatigue rule appendices, as well as providing useful tools and resources. There will also be an overview of how to implement a fatigue risk management system. This is a great opportunity for aviation personnel to talk with CASA’s fatigue management project staff, meet with a local CASA inspector, and have fatigue questions answered to ensure a smooth transition.
Regional safety management in focus
Three special workshops on safety management systems for small, non-complex aviation organisations are being held in regional Australia in May 2016. The workshops are at Alice Springs, Cairns and Rockhampton. They are part of a program of education and support for regional aviation organisations wanting to learn about developing and implementing a safety management system. The workshops are interactive, with plenty of time for questions and feedback. They cost $50 per person, which makes a contribution to running costs. Each participant will be given a copy of the latest edition of the safety management system resource kit, which is essential for anyone setting up a new system or updating an existing system. The resource kit is written in plain language and has templates and guides for implementing safety management systems. Two more safety management system workshops will be held in June 2016 at Albany and Kununurra.
Updates to remotely piloted aircraft rules
Regulatory requirements for a sector of the booming remotely piloted aircraft industry are being eased. Commercial operators of very small remotely piloted aircraft will no longer need to obtain regulatory approvals such as an operator’s certificate and a remote pilot licence. The changes, which take effect from 29 September 2016, apply to remotely piloted aircraft used in commercial operations weighing less than two kilograms maximum take-off weight. These operators will need to notify CASA that they intend to use very small remotely piloted aircraft for commercial flights and must operate according to a set of standard operating conditions. These mandatory conditions include flying only in day visual line of sight, below 120 metres, keeping more than 30 metres away from other people, flying more than 5.5 kilometres from controlled aerodromes and not operating near emergency situations. An online system will be used by the commercial operators of very small remotely piloted aircraft to notify CASA of their operations. The package of changes made to the regulations covering remotely piloted aircraft also permits private landholders to carry out a range of activities on their own land without the need for approvals from CASA. This includes remotely piloted aircraft up to 25 kilograms in weight where no money is paid for flights. CASA is finalising a series of advisory circulars covering remotely piloted aircraft operations. These will cover training and licensing, operators and operations, general information and the sub-two kilogram class.
Get a lesson to save your life
CASA is scheduled to hold safety seminars for pilots at up to 13 locations around the nation during May 2016. Lessons for life seminars are planned for Mildura, Inverell, Armidale, Mareeba, Innisfail, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Mudgee, Kalgoorlie, Camden, Bankstown, Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. Seminars will focus on key safety issues that continue to feature in accidents such as flight in low visibility, unplanned or unapproved low flying, pilot incapacitation and weather. Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation reports nominate these issues as top safety concerns. There will be a discussion about at least one case study from accident reports. Other issues may be discussed such as regulatory changes, pilot responsibilities in relation to maintenance releases and correct procedures to follow at non-controlled aerodromes. The seminars also provide an important opportunity for pilots to give feedback and suggestions to CASA.
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If you believe aviation safety is at risk, call the CASA safety. Ring 1800 074 737.
If your aircraft has a serious or major defect make sure you report it to CASA. Forms and information are on the CASA web site.
Find out how CASA's safety advisors provide safety education, training and advice to the aviation industry.
Do you need to renew your Aviation Security Identification Card?
Looking to contact CASA's Industry Complaints Commissioner? Find out how here.
If you have a question or request about licensing or aircraft registration remember you can email the CASA Licensing and Registration Centre:
Do you know the easiest way to find the CASA office closest to you? Simply go to our national map and click on your region. Use this link.
There's a special number for contacting CASA's Office of Airspace Regulation outside of normal business hours. For urgent airspace requests call: 02 6217 1177.
CASA has a wide range of challenging and interesting jobs. Find out about the latest employment opportunities at CASA.
CASA online self-service is available for a range of applications. Go to CASA Self-Service.
There's a special page on CASA's web site to help international operators flying in Australia. Find out everything about international operations.
Need to keep up-to-date with what's happening with the regulation of flying schools? Then keep an eye on CASA's web site flying training pages.
Interested in sport aviation? Want to find out how sport aviation is regulated. CASA's web site is a good source of more information. Find out more on the sport aviation pages.