Case study: Ramp checks for recreational aviation
Over the 2013 Easter break, CASA's sport aviation staff conducted surveillance of the yearly Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-Aus) pilgrimage to Temora Aerodrome, NSW, for Natfly, the national fly-in.
Two hundred and nine aircraft flew in for Natfly 2013, from all over Australia. They included many sport and recreational aircraft, from weight shift microlights, gyroplanes and amateur built kit planes, through to Warbirds and general aviation aeroplanes.
Arrivals were greeted by the CASA team, who conducted ramp checks that covered a range of the requirements that participants in this sector of the aviation community must comply with.
Because many recreational pilots increasingly use these types of aircraft for extensive cross-country flying throughout Australia, CASA's priority is to ensure that those activities are being conducted safely and that oversight responsibilities are carried out appropriately by recreational aviation administration organisations, such as RA-Aus.
Ramp checks can include checking the pilot's membership, pilot certificate and endorsements, current charts, whether the pilot has flown more than 50 nautical miles from the aerodrome where their flight commenced that day, and whether the pilot has accessed the aviation weather and Notice to Airmen from the Airservices Australia website.
At the completion of RA-Aus aircraft ramp checks, CASA advises the RA-Aus operations manager of the outcomes and issues identified during the checks. This enables the organisation to assess its members' compliance and to take further action, such as additional training, if required.
Most pilots who were ramp checked by CASA were very positive about the experience. Where a deficiency was identified, they were keen to improve their own safety levels and compliance.
CASA has been attending a number of fly-ins and competitions around the country and is finding improvements in compliance, as well as more active participation by pilots keen to improve their piloting skills.