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CASA Annual Report 2003 04 Part 2: Operational Report

Operational report

Output 4: Aviation regulatory services


  • Industry believes it is getting better service, with 86 per cent of survey respondents reporting that they were satisfied with the service they received.
  • 100 per cent of subsequent issues of general aviation AOCs and COAs were made before their expiry date where timely applications were received.
  • Above target improvements in timely processing of other general aviation certificate applications, now 89 per cent for AOCs and 92 per cent for COAs.
  • Reduced processing time for subsequent issue with no change, and non-complex variations, down to an average of seven days.
  • Reductions of up to 34 per cent in average processing time for initial issue applications and applications for more complex variations.
  • Eight-week turnaround of initial issue aerial agriculture certificate applications agreed with the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia.
  • Major upgrade of the Workflow Management System to support CASA staff in giving better service delivery.
  • Improved general aviation AOC and COA application forms and web site guidance to make the process less onerous for applicants.



Regulatory services are provided in a timely and consistent manner, aligned with CASA’s safety obligations.

Regulatory services are the process by which CASA considers whether people may participate in aviation-related activities and issues legal ‘permissions’ in the form of licences, certificates, registrations and permits to those who meet the required safety standards.

The nature of regulatory services is important to how CASA fulfils the duty to provide them. For CASA, the service is not only to the individual or organisation that seeks it, but to the whole community CASA serves as the regulator of aviation safety. That means good service does not always result in the granting of the requested permission. But it should reflect CASA’s obligations to deliver services consistently, fairly and efficiently.

CASA has been giving increasing emphasis to the quality side of service delivery, not only as a matter of accountability, but because it will take CASA closer to Safe skies for all. CASA needs industry goodwill for an effective partnership in safety and this is something the Minister reinforced in his November 2003 Charter Letter. CASA is also finding that improving regulatory service delivery is releasing resources for other regulatory functions.

Implementation of Government policy to move towards full cost recovery has been another impetus to more efficient service delivery. With much of the industry in strained economic circumstances, CASA is under considerable pressure to provide value for money.


Budget: $25.237 million

Actual: $19.589 million

Variation: –22.4 per cent


Initiatives, developments and issues in 2003–04

Better service

Service delivery initiatives in 2003–04 have allowed CASA to make applying for certificates simpler and easier, to improve on-time service delivery and to reduce average processing times. These achievements build on work done since the Service Centre was established in 2001.

Industry believes it is getting better service, with 86 per cent of survey respondents reporting satisfaction with the service they received from the Service Centre. The Quality System Certification the Service Centre achieved in 2002–03 was also validated during the year, with a third party audit finding no instances of non-conformance with ISO 9001:2000.

One problem area for CASA this year was the processing of applications to add ‘first of type’ corporate jet aircraft to Air Operator’s Certificates (AOCs). CASA is looking urgently at ways to overcome the problem.

Service Centre

CASA Service Centre Staff


Improving service delivery time

The greatest impact on service delivery times was made by the Special Purpose Lane, which CASA set up last year to process certain straightforward certificate applications wholly through the Service Centre.

By the fourth quarter of 2003–04, the Service Centre was processing 57 per cent of AOC applications and 35 per cent of Certificate of Approval (COA) applications through the Special Purpose Lane. The Special Purpose Lane has reduced processing time for the applications it handles to a very respectable annual average of seven days.

The Special Purpose Lane began in May 2003 with non-complex applications for variations to certain AOCs and subsequent issues (not involving variations) of AOCs. This year CASA expanded the Special Purpose Lane to cover applications for the addition of single engine turbine aircraft (where not first of type on the AOC) and aerial work functions, and introduced a Special Purpose Lane for subsequent issues (not involving change) of COA applications. CASA is looking at other regulatory service activities that could benefit from the Special Purpose Lane process.

The dedicated Agricultural Unit set up in CASA’s Tamworth Office last year proved initially successful in improving service delivery; however, CASA is re-examining that approach in light of subsequent resourcing difficulties. During 2003–04, CASA entered into a benchmark agreement with the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia for an eight-week turnaround of initial issue applications processed by the CASA Agricultural Unit. This is the second benchmark agreement CASA has entered into with the agricultural aviation industry.

The Service Centre also improved service delivery and freed CASA’s inspectors to concentrate on more complex matters by taking over processing of applications for a number of industry delegations. The new arrangements will help CASA to more consistently and fairly consider the appointment of industry delegates and ensure that applications are tracked through the assessment process.


Making it easier for applicants and assessors

Applying for an AOC or a COA is not a simple task, but over the past three years CASA has made a concerted effort to make it simpler.

In 2003–04, CASA made the AOC application form less confusing by splitting it into three separate forms (each with their own guidance material) for initial issue, subsequent issue and variation applications. In response to a common industry complaint about duplication of applicant details, CASA now provides a number of forms to applicants pre-populated with the information already held on them. This means that applicants no longer have to continually repeat the information they have previously given. The application form for subsequent issue of a COA was also improved. The new forms were redesigned in consultation with industry members and CASA staff to ensure the end result would work for everyone.

CASA also created a new section on its web site to give applicants for AOCs and COAs better guidance on making an application. The new section sets out (in one location, with all necessary links) the steps for application and assessment, the forms required, the supporting documentation needed, legislative requirements, CASA fees, contacts and other helpful information.

CASA anticipates that the improved forms and web site guidance will result in better service delivery. As well as making the process less onerous for applicants, fewer calls for assistance in filling in the forms will mean CASA staff can give more attention to timely assessment of applications.


Workflow Management System

A major upgrade during the year of CASA’s Workflow Management System will support CASA staff in giving better service delivery. The upgrade has improved the usability, efficiency and system performance of the Workflow Management System. Most of the changes were based on practical suggestions by users and so have been well received.

As well as allowing CASA to track applications through processing and monitor progress against agreed service delivery times, the Workflow Management System also helps CASA to ‘manage by measuring’ using the workload, performance and complaints data it provides. The upgrade will therefore also underpin future service delivery improvements.


Service Feedback

Users of the Service Centre now have the opportunity to let CASA know about their level of satisfaction with the service they have received.

At the issue of a certificate, an email is sent to each applicant with a link to a form on the CASA web site. This form asks a series of straightforward questions, to determine the level of satisfaction felt by the recipient of an AOC or COA issue. An area on that form allows for comments, it is quick and easy to complete, and the user only needs to click a ‘submit’ button when done and the survey results are transferred to CASA. Where applicants do not have access to email or Internet, a survey letter is sent at certificate issue.

CASA can now more effectively gauge the level of client satisfaction and, where necessary, act on any comments made. In some cases, where some negative experiences were conveyed, the Service Centre has followed up and taken remedial action. Of course the survey is only one method of feedback capture; the Service Centre has a complaints process and clients can make comments or complaints at any time.

The response level to the survey has exceeded expectations and provided excellent data for review and analysis. The survey results are included in quarterly performance reports provided to CASA’s senior management group. The results of the customer surveys can be found in Figure 11.


Performance measures

Strategy: Continuously improve the delivery of services to industry.

Note: This strategy and the measures below relate to services provided through the CASA Service Centre.

Measure Regulatory services for which target response times have been set in consultation with industry.
Result CASA reached a second benchmark agreement with the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia relating to provision of regulatory services through the Agricultural Unit. This benchmark is an eight-week timeframe for initial issue of agricultural AOCs.
Progress On track.
Measure AOCs and COAs issued within agreed timeframes.
Target %
Achieved %
Result AOCs
Progress Table 2: On-time issue of certificates within agreed timeframes, 2001–02 to 2003–04
Application type









CASA continued to improve timeliness of issue of initial certificate and certificate variations.

The percentage of COAs issued within the timeframes agreed with individual applicants has now risen by 27 per cent since 2001–02. The percentage of AOCs issued within the timeframes agreed with individual applicants rose by 6 per cent this year; returning CASA to the 89 per cent achieved in 2001–02.

As in the previous two years, 100 per cent of subsequent issues of AOCs and COAs were made before their expiry date in all cases where the certificate holders submitted timely applications.

Measure Industry satisfaction with provision of regulatory services for issue of AOCs and COAs
Result 86 per cent of survey respondents were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the service they received on their job.

Figure 11: Industry satisfaction

Progress CASA conducted an electronic satisfaction survey of all clients for whom jobs were done during the period July to November 2003.

CASA has investigated the jobs on which clients felt they had received unsatisfactory service. The results have been fed back into the quality improvement program.
Measure External complaints finalised in accordance with the CASA Service Charter.
Result Achieved; 100 per cent of complaints finalised as required.
Progress CASA has continuously improved Service Centre complaints handling over the past three years.
Measure New permissions adopted by the CASA Service Centre.
Result Achieved.
  • Instrument of Appointment Permissions introduced (for Regulations 2A, 29A, 37, 42M, 42R, 42ZC(6), 42ZC(7), 42ZS, 42ZW, 21.176, 21.195A, 21.200 and 21.324)
  • Air–Ground Radio Operator Certificate (Part 139)
  • Air Traffic Service Providers – ATEL/ANAV Service Provider Certificate (Part 171)
  • Air–Ground Radio Service Provider Certificate.
Measure Number of processes for entry to the aviation industry reviewed or simplified.
Result Achieved.
  • Procedures streamlined:
    • process for certificate variations to include aerial work functions and simple turbine aircraft (not ‘first of type’) simplified under the Special Purpose Lane process
    • delivery of subsequent issues of COAs (not involving variation) made faster and easier via the Special Purpose Lane process
    • centralised tracking for Instrument of Appointment permissions introduced.
  • Application forms simplified:
    • three separate, less complex AOC application forms (for initial issue, variation and subsequent issue) completed and brought into production
    • a simpler, more user-friendly COA subsequent issue application form introduced.
  • Better guidance:
    • essential CASA documents made available to external industry delegates via a secure web site
    • Industry Delegates and Approved Persons Management Manual completed
    • added a CASA web page bringing together all AOC/COA material, including ‘Requirements for Adding Flying Training and Flying Schools to an AOC’ information.
  • Systems improved:
    • Workflow Management System (Release 3) to improve job monitoring system and processing times.
Measure Average processing time by category for AOCs and COAs.
Result Improved.
Progress Table 3: Average processing times, 2001–02 to 2003–04


Application type



  AOC: Initial issue




  COA: Initial issue





Processing of COA applications continued to be the biggest area of improvement. Over the past two years CASA has brought down average processing times for initial issues by 45 per cent and for variations by 36 per cent.

With ongoing efficiencies, CASA has also accelerated AOC applications processing since 2001–02 by 27 per cent for initial issues and 16 per cent for variations.


Strategy: Introduce innovations for industry applications and guidance material.
Measure E-commerce systems in place.
Result On track.
Progress Introduced new AOC application form online. CASA investigated B-pay, but found its introduction not economically feasible at this stage.


Keeping pace with technological change – unmanned aerial vehicles present a challenge

CASA accepted the challenge of this developing technology and introduced legislation under CASR Part 101, ‘Unmanned Aircraft and Rockets’ to deal with applicants who want to be part of this cutting edge industry.

A team comprising technical staff from CASA's Regulatory Services

UAV specialists Greg Bath, John Barr and Mike Horneman.

A team comprising technical staff from CASA’s Regulatory Services Branch investigated CASA’s role in the introduction of Part 101.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have evolved over time, mainly in military operations and in recent years it has become obvious that a civil application for this type of aircraft would eventually evolve. Only a few countries have developed appropriate design rules to enable manufacturers to build systems and mechanisms to coordinate and regulate UAVs for civilian use.

The team focused on entry control and CASA’s ability to assess applications for Part 101 Operating Certificates. Possible activities for UAV commercial civil operations considered by the team included, but were not limited to aerial surveying, oil and mineral surveying, agricultural work including crop monitoring and spraying, fish observation, fire fighting, airborne television platform, and monitoring of pipelines, power lines and railways.

Applications tend to fall into operations, such as border and/or coastline patrols, environmental protection, emergency communications relay, weather observation, scientific research and police operations.

The team worked on developing the UAV Operating Certificate Entry Control Manual used by the CASA inspectorate group to process UAV Operating Certificate applications. Applications were then forthcoming and the potential for the UAVs to fill a niche in the Australian aviation industry began.

CASA has issued five Operating Certificates to UAV operators in accordance with CASR Part 101 with three more applications currently being assessed.

Aerosonde was one of the earliest UAV operators to achieve approval. Aerosonde has been operating UAVs on long endurance weather and atmospheric flights for a number of years.

Currently, Certificate Holders include two small UAV Helicopter operators. A number of the other groups working towards applying for UAV Operating Certificates are proposing to operate helicopters and airships.

CASA is working with industry to gain a shared understanding of the technology and its possible future, and to develop effective harmonised regulations and entry control processes to encourage this emerging sector of the aviation industry.