From the Director of Aviation Safety
This is the last time I will be communicating with the aviation community in my role as CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety. My slightly extended term as Director is completed at the end of August 2014. The last five and a half years have been challenging, satisfying and at times difficult. I firmly believe that as I leave CASA it is a better and more effective air safety regulator and I know it is respected by leading regulators around the world. Like any good organisation CASA is a team of people with a mix of skills, knowledge and experience that when constructively managed deliver excellent outcomes. In 2014 I look at CASA and see a clearer focus on priorities, documented processes and procedures that are followed as required, better training and support for staff and an understanding that decision making must be transparent and fair. Safe skies for all is the goal that drives CASA.
Never-the-less I know CASA and myself in particular have our critics. Some of the critics offer constructive criticism and this is welcomed and indeed valued. I have never pretended CASA has all the answers to every issue relating to aviation safety. Right through my term I have encouraged and facilitated consultation, information sharing and debate. I know this work to get the best possible safety outcomes through joint efforts by CASA and the aviation community will continue. However, I firmly believe that as a regulator CASA also has a responsibility to make judgements, take decisions and to act in the interests of protecting and improving aviation safety. Naturally these actions must be based on evidence and solid data and be taken following sound processes and procedures that ensure fairness and transparency. It follows, of course, that when a regulator takes actions not everyone is happy. Again, I have had no problem with people putting their point of view and arguing their case as that is their right if they disagree with CASA. But just because some people may disagree it does not mean CASA is necessarily wrong or should step away from its position. Sadly when some of CASA’s critics have not got their own way the debate has degenerated and become personal, which is not constructive and does nothing for aviation safety. It is a fact of human nature that some people will personally attack others as a way of diverting too close an examination of themselves.
The future for CASA will be positive. Our people are committed to their work, their organisation and Australian aviation. I am sure any changes made to CASA in the future will further strengthen the organisation and the outcomes it delivers for all Australians. I look forward to watching CASA become an even more effective safety regulator as Australian aviation grows and prospers.
John F McCormick
Get on the right frequency at unmarked aerodromes
Pilots are being reminded of the correct procedures for making radio broadcasts at aerodromes which are not marked on aeronautical charts. Under Civil Aviation Regulation 166 pilots must make a radio broadcast whenever it is reasonably necessary to avoid a collision or the risk of a collision. When at or near a non-controlled aerodrome with a common traffic advisory frequency pilots should check their radio is on the published frequency and listen and broadcast as necessary. Pilots operating at or in the vicinity of non-controlled aerodromes that are marked on charts but have not been given an assigned discrete frequency should use the multicom frequency of 126.7. When operating at or near aerodromes that are not marked on charts the relevant VHF area frequency should be used. The multicom 126.7 frequency should not be used at these unmarked aerodromes. This is because pilots who are unaware of the unmarked aerodrome will be using the area frequency and will not hear broadcasts on the multicom. If pilots or operators are concerned about frequency congestion or believe an unmarked aerodrome should be on charts they should contact their local Regional Airspace and Procedures Advisory Committee (RAPAC) to seek a change. CASA is encouraging pilots and air operators to take steps to get aerodromes marked on charts so people from outside local areas are aware of the existence of the aerodromes.
Find more information in the CAR 166 advisory publication and information booklet.
Find the details of your local RAPAC.
Questions about the new licensing rules? We have the answers.
There is a simple way for everyone to make sure they understand the new suite of licensing regulations which take effect from 1 September 2014. CASA has developed a set of 19 information sheets covering key aspects of the new rules. The sheets cover everything from learning to fly through to flight reviews and proficiency checks. They set out information in an easy to read style and explain how the new rules will work in practice. There are sheets on medical requirements, the new recreational pilot licence, aircraft ratings, the manual of standards for Part 61 and a guide to type rated helicopters. The information sheets can be found on CASA’s web site and are being distributed at AvSafety seminars. Forms needed to convert existing pilot licences to new Part 61 licences are now also available, although pilots are not required to take any action at this stage. CASA is encouraging pilots to apply for a new licence document only when their flight instructor or flight examiner notifies CASA of a flight review, proficiency check or a flight test for a new licence, rating or endorsement. This will keep the four year transition orderly. CASA’s web site has a wealth of information on the other parts of the licensing suite – 64, 141 and 142. Part 141 covers recreational, private and commercial pilot training, while 142 covers integrated and multi-crew training. Part 64 deals with authorisations for people who are not pilots to taxi aircraft or use an aircraft radio.
Get all the information on the new licensing suite.
Call for comment on community service flight safety
A wide range of options for the safety regulation of community service flights have been released by CASA. The aviation community, health profession and general public are being asked to provide their views on the best ways of balancing the benefits to the community of service flights with the need protect safety. Community service flights are provided on a voluntary or charity basis for non-emergency medical travel, with a number of organisations currently providing services. There are no specific safety regulations covering these flights so pilots have varying levels of qualifications and experience and the aircraft involved vary in size, power and sophistication. In a discussion paper CASA has put forward six administrative options which range from making no change to the current situation to a requirement for a full air operators certificate. CASA’s preferred option is for community service flights to be conducted under a CASA approved self-administering aviation organisation. If such an organisation was set up it would have responsibilities which included assessing and authorising pilots, requiring pilot proficiency checks, assessment and approval of aircraft types and pilot and aircraft tasking. By using this approach CASA could monitor safety standards without imposing undue regulatory burdens such as an air operators certificate. In the discussion paper CASA also puts forward four operational requirements that could be implemented in conjunction with the administrative options. These cover pilot licensing, aircraft operational limitations, aircraft certification and maintenance and public education. CASA is well aware of the community benefit gained by the generous donation of time, expertise and money by all the volunteers and donors to the community service flight charities. The discussion paper is an opportunity to explore whether some additional mitigation of risks is appropriate, as well as what impact any changes might have on the ability of charities to provide these services. Further consultation would take place if any changes are proposed.
Read the community service flight discussion paper and have your say before 10 October 2014.
Timetable for approved testing officers
The timetable for the transition of approved testing officers to the new licensing regulations has been released by CASA. Approved testing officers currently hold delegations from CASA which allow them to carry out flight tests for pilots. Under the new licensing suite of regulations approved testing officers will transition to a flight examiner rating on 30 June 2016. The flight examiner rating is a personal qualification under the new Civil Aviation Safety Regulation Part 61 pilot licencing regulations. It is not a delegation from CASA. The 2016 transition date will make it easier for both current approved testing officers and CASA to manage the transition to the new rules. Approved testing officers who want to transition before June 2016 may do so. All current and new applications for approval to be an approved testing officer will result in the issue of a flight examiner rating to eligible applicants.
Read more about the transition of approved testing officers to the new regulations.
Time to apply for sponsorship
A new round of sponsorship opportunities is being offered by CASA to aviation organisations promoting safety. Applications for financial or in-kind sponsorship can be made from 18 August 2014 until 5 September 2014. CASA offers sponsorship for activities such as conferences, workshops, seminars, educational programs and publications that promote Australia’s civil aviation safety capabilities, skills and services. CASA looks to align sponsorship with current safety promotion activities and priorities. These include ageing aircraft safety, sports and recreational safety, promoting new safety rules and helicopter operations in remote and regional areas. Applications for sponsorship of activities outside of these priorities will be considered if there is a strong safety focus, known risk factors are addressed and the activities lead to improved aviation safety. Organisations wishing to apply for sponsorship need to fill in a form which is available on CASA’s web site. This form asks for a description of the event or activity, the safety messages to be conveyed, the expected number of participants or people impacted, the amount of money or in-kind contribution sought and the reciprocal benefits to CASA.
Find out more and apply for sponsorship.
Helicopter rule changes clarified
CASA has clarified the impact of the new licensing suite of regulations on the helicopter sector. This follows statements by the Australian Helicopter Industry Association about Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations. CASA’s Director John McCormick wrote an article for the Australian newspaper’s aviation section correcting claims made by the Association. The Director said CASA recognises the vital role played by the helicopter industry and the importance of its continuing growth. He said statements by the Association do not reflect the close consultation CASA has been undertaking with the broader helicopter community, including representatives of the Association.
Mr McCormick said: “The Association’s comments also reflect an incomplete understanding of the Manual of Standards for Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, which sets out in detail the aeronautical knowledge and flight standards required for all pilot licences, ratings and endorsements. The standards prescribed in the Part 61 Manual of Standards for each flight crew licence reflect the rules and practices that have been used by CASA and the aviation industry for more than ten years. Minor amendments have been made to these to enhance their content and improve their layout. Claims by the Association that CASA has not developed ‘three tier format’ legislation are incorrect. In fact that is what has been done: the Manual of Standards is empowered by the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, which are themselves empowered by the Civil Aviation Act. Plain English advisory circulars and guidance material are also produced to help the aviation industry understand and implement new standards. CASA rejects the claim that elements of the Part 61 Manual of Standards can encourage unsafe practices. Where earlier drafts of the Manual of Standards revealed some unintended consequences, appropriate changes were made, informed by constructive feedback from the industry. CASA will continue to work cooperatively and collaboratively with the helicopter industry, as we do with all other sectors of Australian aviation, to develop new, improved and safer regulations and standards where required.”
Read the Director’s response in full.
R44 fuel system warning
Operators and maintainers of Robinson R44 II helicopters with a Lycoming engine have been advised to take action to address a potential fuel system defect which can cause loss of engine power. The problem is the disintegration of a washer fitted to the fuel cylinder injector. This washer is downstream of the fuel strainer so any washer material that breaks off can be carried straight to the fuel nozzles. The disintegration of the washer was the cause of a loss of engine power on an R44 II in New Zealand where the pilot carried out a successful autorotation. Since this incident another 19 fuel system washer defects have been reported in New Zealand. The manufacturer of the fuel injection system Precision Airmotive has issued two service bulletins relating to the fuel system washers. The most recent requires inspections at 500 hourly intervals. CASA recommends R44 II operators and maintainers incorporate the service bulletins in aircraft maintenance programs and has asked for any incidents or defects to be reported through the Service Difficulty Reporting System.
Read the R44 II fuel system airworthiness bulletin (66.83 KB).
Safety seminars for pilots in three states
Nine AvSafety seminars are scheduled to be held in NSW, Victoria and Queensland during September 2014. The AvSafety seminars being held in the second half of 2014 focus on providing information and answering questions about the new licensing suite of regulations. Presenters will walk everyone through the look, structure, details and transition arrangements for the new Part 61 pilot licence. A package of information sheets will be available that set out in an easy to follow format all the key information on the new licensing rules. In addition there will be a general update on the regulatory reform process. This will include an explanation of the next phase of regulation reform, how to find information and who will be affected. The seminars will also demonstrate the new interactive education programs and resources available online to help keep pilots safe in the air and on the ground. This includes the new and revised Visual Flight Rules Guide, and the updated and improved On-Track interactive guide to operating in and around controlled airspace.
Find an AvSafety seminar near you.
Safety regulation goes back to early days of flight
A colourful history of the safety regulation of Australian aviation is now available online. The history covers the creation of the Civil Aviation Branch in 1921 through to the Department of Aviation in the mid 1980s. The genesis of safety regulation goes back to 1919, just nine years after the first flight in Australia, when an air traffic committee was set up under the Council of Defence. In the year the Civil Aviation Branch was established there were 50 pilot licences issued, one hundred and four ground engineers, fifty six aircraft registered and nine government aerodromes and five emergency landing grounds. By 1922, 1700 hours were flown. The staff of the Civil Aviation Branch totalled 19 people, growing to 251 in 1939 and 1305 just after World War II. In the early days the Civil Aviation Branch worked with scant resources, with the Controller of Civil Aviation, Lieutenant Colonel H.C. Brinsmead, and three superintendents sharing one room at the Victoria Barracks Melbourne. In 1929 Australia was granted our own nationality marking of VH, replacing the G marking of Great Britain. Tragedy stuck the fledgling organisation in 1923 when an assistant superintendent was killed in an early morning take off accident in a Bristol Tourer aircraft at Port Hedland. By 1959, the year jet aircraft entered service in Australia, there were 10,000 licensed pilots and 1000 registered aircraft.
Read the history of civil aviation regulation.
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If you believe aviation safety is at risk, call the CASA safety hotline. Ring 1800 074 737.
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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's self service portal is an on-line tool that makes doing business with CASA easier. Find the portal here.
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.
CASA's ever popular Flight Safety Australia magazine is online. View the current edition and back issues here.
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.