Introduction by the Chair of the Board
This Annual Report covers the operations of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority during the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009. The Board of CASA and my appointment as Chair became effective on 1 July 2009.
The new Board is mindful that safety is the Australian Government’s first priority in aviation. CASA plays a critical role, in cooperation with industry and other organisations, to achieve this. We expect safety to be fundamental to the aviation industry, and foremost among the considerations taken into account in all relevant decision making.
As Australia’s aviation safety regulator, CASA must meet the challenges of an industry that is increasingly diverse and complex on the one hand, and under very significant pressures on the other. Today’s industry faces new challenges. For example, environmental concerns are increasingly important matters for government and business alike, aircraft fleets are ageing, some key aviation professionals and specialists are in short supply, and future capital investments in aircraft will likely have to be more than matched by investments in infrastructure and management systems. Predicted growth in aviation will pose additional and additionally complex challenges for CASA at a time when Australia relies on aviation to link its businesses and its people to each other and the world.
In 2009 parliament amended the Civil Aviation Act 1988 to improve CASA’s governance, principally by creating a small Board with effect from 1 July 2009. Other amendments to the Act strengthen CASA’s enforcement powers and capacity to take necessary safety actions, including the ability to oversight foreign aircraft operations in Australia more effectively. These amendments and the establishment of the Board will significantly enhance the ability of an already effective civil aviation safety regulator to fulfil its obligations.
The functions of the new Board are to decide the objectives, strategies and policies to be followed so that CASA performs its functions in a proper, efficient and effective manner, in compliance with ministerial directions. The Board will work through the Director of Aviation Safety to ensure appropriate relationships with the industry, the public and other government agencies are fostered and maintained. The CASA Board will operate at a strategic level with a particular focus on governance while the Director of Aviation Safety will continue to be responsible for day-to-day regulatory and operational decision making.
The Board welcomes the Australian Government’s Aviation Green Paper as an important step towards a comprehensive national strategic plan for aviation. When the Aviation White Paper is released it will bring all aspects of aviation policy into one statement. A range of key issues for CASA have already been identified. These include the need to improve the underpinning governance arrangements for CASA, the requirement to complete the current stage of the regulatory reform process, and the increasing importance of comprehensive safety management systems within industry.
Other issues raised in the Green Paper of relevance for CASA include improving the way CASA relates to industry, improving how aviation safety agencies work together, the role of industry in maintaining safety standards as it grows and diversifies, and the opportunities and risks involved in allowing some parts of the industry to self-administer. While the challenges are significant, and the views expressed about CASA during the Green Paper process varied, an underlying theme suggests that CASA is heading in the right direction in how it undertakes its role and responsibilities.
In closing my introduction to this annual report, I want to recognise the hard work of the staff who contributed to CASA’s achievements in 2008–09. On behalf of the new Board I extend my thanks to them and deliver an undertaking to work with them to achieve even more in 2009–10. With a strengthened Civil Aviation Act, a new Board and a relatively new Director and organisational structure, CASA is well positioned to move confidently into the years ahead.
Chair of the Board
Left: David Gray
Centre: Helen Gillies
Right: Trevor Danos