The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is Australia’s air safety regulator.
CASA is established by an Act of the Australian Parliament – the Civil Aviation Act 1988. This legislation also sets out CASA’s role, functions and powers.
CASA regulates the safety-related activities of the aviation industry through the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 and the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.
There are also Civil Aviation Orders, which set out the technical detail of the directions and instructions specified in the 1988 regulations. Manuals of Standards serve a similar purpose in relation to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998.
The Civil Aviation Safety Regulations are progressively replacing the 1988 regulations.
CASA reports to the Australian Government’s Minister for Transport and Regional Services and is accountable to the Australian Parliament.
CASA’s main functions are:
- Developing and disseminating clear and concise aviation safety standards
- Developing effective enforcement strategies to secure compliance with the safety standards
- Conducting comprehensive surveillance of the aviation industry
- Conducting regular reviews of safety to monitor the aviation industry’s performance and to identify safety trends and risks
- Issuing operational certificates to aviation organisations
- Issuing licences, aircraft registration and other permits
- Carrying out timely assessment of international safety developments
- Encouraging the aviation industry to maintain high safety standards through education, training and advice
- Making aviation industry management and the general aviation community aware of the importance of safety and compliance with the rules
- Promoting full and effective consultation and communication with all people and organisations that have an interest in aviation safety.
No. CASA is responsible for the safety regulation of all civil air operations in Australia. It also covers the operation of Australian aircraft that are flying outside Australia. CASA has no jurisdiction over military aircraft operations.
Airlines utilising foreign registered aircraft which operate commercial carrying operations to or from Australia must hold a Foreign Aircraft Operator's Certificate issued by CASA. CASA conducts a program of safety checks on foreign airlines while they are in Australia. In addition, CASA may give permission for a foreign registered aircraft to operate on a domestic commercial flight in Australia for a defined period of time (no more than 7 days) where it has been determined there will be no adverse effect on safety.
However, the safety regulation of foreign aircraft is primarily the responsibility of the aviation safety regulator of the country in which the aircraft is registered. Such aircraft, and the airlines that operate them, must comply with that country's civil aviation requirements and also with applicable Australian safety requirements administered by CASA while the aircraft is operating in Australian territory.
CASA does not have the primary role of investigating accidents and incidents in Australia. This is the function of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is an independent body within the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services and is Australia’s prime agency for transport safety investigations. The Bureau publishes reports on the facts and conclusions of accident investigations, safety research material and statistics. All aircraft accidents and incidents must be reported to the Bureau.
CASA will often examine the circumstances surrounding an accident to identify issues relating to safety regulation. These enquiries are separate from investigations carried out by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
No. Australia’s air traffic control system is run by an Australian Government owned corporation called Airservices Australia.
Airservices Australia provides safe and environmentally sound air traffic control management and related airside services to the aviation industry. It operates within the Australian Flight Information region, which covers 11 percent of the earth’s surface including Australian airspace and international airspace over the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The aviation industry also relies on Airservices for aeronautical data, telecommunications and navigation services. There are more than 1000 air traffic controllers working from two major centres in Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as 26 towers at international and regional airports. Airservices also provides Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting services at 19 of the nation’s busiest airports.
CASA's key role is to maintain and improve aviation safety. The most visible role centres on making sure everyone involved in aviation is abiding by the rules. To do this CASA "permits" organisations to operate as airlines, charter flight operators or in a range of other commercial areas within aviation. Airlines and other commercial air operators must hold a valid air operators certificate issued by CASA and which amongst many other provisions requires safety standards to be maintained. CASA also licences pilots and engineers and manages the registration of aircraft. By doing these things, CASA helps to make sure that the organisations and people involved in aviation understand and accept their responsibility to operate safely.
When organisations or people operate unsafely and break the rules, CASA may have to step in and take enforcement action. Enforcement action can range from issuing infringement notices to prosecution in the courts, which may result in fines and demerit-points. Where it is necessary to do so in the interests of safety, CASA also has the power to vary, suspend or cancel an organisation’s operating certificate or an individual’s licence. CASA can also limit the rights of operators or individuals to exercise the privileges of their certificate or licence, or prevent them from doing so entirely. Where necessary for safety reasons CASA may stop an airline or an aircraft from operating.
Another important role for CASA is developing and maintaining the aviation rules – to make sure they are focussed on safety and are easy to follow. This means CASA updates the regulations as required, taking into account changes in technology, overseas developments and the needs of the aviation industry. A thorough process of consultation is undertaken with the aviation industry during the process of changing rules.
Equally important is the education and training CASA provides to support the aviation industry’s efforts to maintain and improve safety. CASA conducts a comprehensive program of safety seminars and workshops for pilots, engineers and aviation operators. In addition, there are a wide range of safety publications – on paper, DVD, CD-ROM and on-line. These include pilot guides, guidance on safety management systems, advice for engineers and support for flying training.
CASA conducts surveillance activities to make sure organisations and people are meeting the required safety standards and are operating within the rules. Checks are made on organisations – such as airlines and charter operators – as well as individuals, such as pilots. For airlines there are programs of formal and informal safety checks, which include audits, spot checks and operational observations. Regular audits of airlines involve CASA teams looking in-depth at various aspects of organisations, such as pilot training, aircraft maintenance and flying operations. A major part of this activity is assessing an airline’s own safety systems and their approach to risk management. Spot checks are also carried out on aircraft and crews from time-to-time during normal daily operations. CASA inspectors spend considerable ‘time on the tarmac’ working with operators and observing operations.
By analysing safety information and data CASA also identifies areas of emerging or changing risk in Australian aviation and targets appropriate areas with safety oversight. This risk management approach can be reflected in the topics chosen for audits or the sectors targeted for increased surveillance.
In reality airlines and other air operators have the prime responsibility for safety. CASA sets the standards and carries out safety oversight and checks, but it cannot deliver safety every day, on every flight. That is quite properly the job of the air operators.
What CASA does is to make sure the airlines and other air operators have the right systems and procedures in place to manage safety and risks, to achieve the best possible levels of safety. If an airline has the right training and checking systems for their pilots, the flight crew can be expected to perform to the required standards. If an airline has robust systems to control maintenance, work on their aircraft can be expected to meet the correct standards. CASA makes it clear to the aviation industry that safety is not just complying with the rules - it is a commitment individuals and organisations must make to achieving practical outcomes in every-day operations.
Safety must be a top priority for airlines, charter operators, other air operators and maintenance organisations and it must start from top management down. As the regulator, it is CASA’s job to make sure the safety standards are right and airlines and other aviation organisations are meeting the required levels of safety. In addition, CASA encourages and motivates the aviation industry to continually work to find ways of lifting safety performance.
Yes. CASA gives priority to the safety of passengers. This is a policy that has been endorsed by Government and is implemented under regulations and other requirements that have been subject to Federal Parliamentary scrutiny. The policy means most of CASA’s time and resources are allocated to maintaining and improving safety on passenger-carrying flights. People travelling on airlines – large and small – and charter flights are CASA’s highest priority. Careful analysis and safety judgement supports this allocation of priorities. Ninety six per cent of Australians who fly do so on airlines and they have a reasonable expectation that safety standards are applied. People who are flying on an Australian airline expect high standards of safety from their carrier, as well as responsible safety oversight by the aviation regulator. By making passenger-carrying flights a priority CASA can meet these expectations.
However, the priority classification policy does not mean CASA walks away from other sectors of Australian aviation. There are comprehensive safety rules covering the non-passenger commercial sectors of aviation, as well as private flying. Even sport aviation is covered by safety regulations, although in this area CASA is increasingly devolving responsibility for day-to-day administration to approved organisations. Where administration is devolved, CASA makes sure the people and organisations who take on these responsibilities are capable and effective.
More details on CASA’s classification policy.
CASA sets the regulations for sports aviation but does not get involved in the day-to-day administration of the activities of sport aviation organisations, such as licensing and registration. These administrative responsibilities have largely been given over to peak bodies in each sports aviation sector.
This approach has several advantages. Firstly, it frees up CASA’s resources to be focussed on passenger-carrying operations, where the vast majority of Australians fly. If CASA was spending time carrying out surveillance of gliding flights, for example, there would be less time for safety checks on airlines. Secondly, it allows the aviation sports to be administered by the people who are expert in their field. The people who know most about ultralights, for example, are the people who are testing and licensing ultralight pilots and making sure safety standards are maintained.
CASA maintains its oversight of sports aviation by auditing the peak bodies that administer each sector. This involves a range of safety checks by CASA’s sports aviation inspectors on a regular basis.
You can check to see if an airline, charter operator or any other commercial air operator has approval to operate simply by going to a page on CASA’s web site. The ‘search for certified air operators’ page allows you to search all the certificates CASA issues to commercial air operations. Listed are the major airlines, regional airlines, large and small charter operators, freight operators, flying training organisations and aerial work operators such as aerial agriculture organisations. You can read an organisation’s air operators certificate, which will tell you what operations are approved, the aircraft that can be used and in the case of a scheduled airline, the routes that can be flown.
Yes. CASA issues certificates to the capital city and larger regional aerodromes to ensure that safety standards are maintained. You can read the list of certified aerodromes here.
An aerodrome must be certified if it is used by regular public transport aircraft carrying more than 30 passengers or frequent charter flights carrying more than 30 people. Various safety requirements apply to these aerodromes, including the need for operational manuals, safety management systems and inspections.
Aerodromes that are not required to be certified may choose to be registered with CASA. Registered aerodromes must have the same physical standards as certified aerodromes, but some of the other requirements do not need to be met. You can read a list of registered aerodromes here.
Other, smaller aerodromes do not hold any approval from CASA. It is the responsibility of air operators and pilots to make sure these aerodromes are safe for their particular type of operation.
CASA provides approvals to aviation maintenance, manufacturing and design organisations. This approval – know as a certificate of approval – requires the organisations to meet specified standards and to have staff who are appropriately qualified. CASA makes sure maintenance organisations have the right facilities and equipment for the work they will be doing, that they have quality control systems and appropriate training for staff. Audits and other safety checks of maintenance, manufacturing and design organisations are carried out by CASA to ensure safety standards and regulatory requirements are being met. When maintenance organisations or people operate unsafely and break the rules, CASA may have to step in and take enforcement action.
Airlines are also required to have a system of maintenance for their aircraft and to have appropriate overall systems of maintenance control. These measures make sure large passenger carrying aircraft are maintained to the highest possible standards. CASA also continually monitors reports of defects or maintenance issues with aircraft in service in Australia. Where issues arise during the lifespan of an aircraft type, CASA issues airworthiness directives or bulletins that either require or recommend action to be taken to avoid or rectify defects.
- What are CASA’s main functions?
- Does CASA regulate all aspects of Australian aviation?
- What about foreign airlines?
- Does CASA investigate aircraft accidents?
- Does CASA run the air traffic control system?
- What are CASA’s key roles?
- Are there other ways CASA keeps the skies safe?
- How does CASA check to make sure aviation is safe?
- How much responsibility do airlines take for safety?
- Does CASA have any safety priorities?
- How involved is CASA in sport aviation?
- Can CASA help me check out an airline or charter operator?
- Does CASA have a role in making sure airports are safe?
- What role does CASA have with maintenance organisations?