From acting Director of Aviation Safety and CEO, Shane Carmody
It seems every year in aviation is packed with issues to grapple with and challenges to meet and 2017 looks no different. For CASA the ongoing challenges are to strike the appropriate balance in our regulatory work, be clear and consistent, understand the impact of our decisions and be willing to consider alternative ways to achieve required safety outcomes. A lot of work continues within CASA to embed our regulatory philosophy in all aspects of our operations and decision making. This philosophy underpins all aspects of CASA’s work – making and implementing regulations, working with individuals and operators, developing safety education and support and communicating with the aviation community. I have made it very clear to everyone in CASA, not just operational staff, that the regulatory philosophy must drive everything we do.
I am pleased CASA has recently delivered on two ongoing commitments, with the release of the medical certification discussion paper in December and the first steps taken to conduct an independent review of the new fatigue rules. Both matters have been contentious, with a wide range of views expressed by people and organisations. The medical certification discussion paper covers a lot of territory. I thank the many people who have already commented and I encourage as many people as possible to read the paper and have their say. CASA will look dispassionately at the submissions and undertake an open process in determining what changes may be appropriate. We have gone to tender for the conduct of the fatigue review and will look to have the selection process finalised by March 2017 and a report delivered in the second half of the year. Finally on 2 February 2017 another longstanding initiative will have reached a milestone, with the implementation of the automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast mandate, a major improvement to Australia’s aviation safety system.
First step in fatigue rules review
In October 2016, CASA and its Board decided an independent review would be conducted of the latest fatigue rules for air operators and pilots. These rules are in Civil Aviation Order 48.1 Instrument 2013. In January 2017, CASA issued a tender to engage the services of a suitably qualified independent specialist, or team of specialists, to undertake the fatigue review. This independent review will provide CASA with an informed basis on which to finalise reform of the fatigue rules. The review has four objectives - determining if the new rules are necessary, evaluating the research and evidence used in developing the rules, evaluating how research and evidence takes into account the Australian operating environment and evaluating the extent to which the latest fatigue rules are consistent with the principles in CASA’s regulatory philosophy and the directive about the development of new regulations. The review will consider a range of issues including the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization, along with the current and proposed fatigue rules of the European Aviation Safety Agency, New Zealand, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. Other issues to be considered include the results of investigations into fatigue related accidents and incidents and the approach to fatigue regulation by other transport regulators. The terms of reference were approved by the CASA Board.
Visit the fatigue review web page on the CASA website.
R22 main rotor blade warning
A crack in an R22 main rotor blade has sparked new safety recommendations to pilots and operators. In an airworthiness bulletin CASA recommends main rotor blade inspections pay particular attention to the blade trailing edges. If there are sudden and increased vibration levels during flight the pilot should land immediately to investigate the cause, as increased vibration levels are a reason to suspect a cracked blade. The recommendations follow the discovery of main rotor blade cracking on an R22 Beta II helicopter fitted with A016-6 main rotor blades. This was found after the helicopter experienced an unusual increase in vibration levels and commenced a landing. Shortly before making a successful landing and while in the hover the pilot reported an increase in vertical vibration levels and a decrease in power available. Subsequent inspection revealed a crack approximately 160 mm in length emanating from the trailing edge and running chord wise toward the D section spar. The total time in service of the blade was 1782.7 hours. The manufacturer stipulates a life limit of 2200 hours or 12 years for these blades. The incident is being investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the root cause has not yet been identified. CASA is keeping the issue under a close watch and any blade defects should be reported using the online defect reporting service. Defects include corrosion, dents and chips, as well as any marks on the blade which may have been present at manufacture.
Read the R22 main rotor blade airworthiness bulletin.
Have your say on pilot medicals
It’s time to have your say on pilot medical certification. CASA is seeking comments on a comprehensive discussion paper setting out a range of medical certification issues and options. Six options are contained in the discussion paper, ranging from continuing existing medical requirements to developing a new medical certificate for the sport and recreational sectors. Other options include re-assessing risk tolerances, streamlining certification practices, aligning sport and recreational standards and mitigating the risks of any changes through operational restrictions. The discussion paper also looks at a range of relevant issues such as CASA’s approach to aviation medicine, the approach to medical certification in four other nations, pilot incapacitation in Australia, accidents and risks, psychiatric conditions and the protection of third parties. The discussion paper says: “CASA’s operational objective, in practice, is to develop policy and guidelines that strive to let as many people continue to fly as safely as possible. However, CASA is aware there is a perception from some elements of the pilot community that CASA can take an overly rigorous approach in terms of testing and contesting opinions from other doctors. It is difficult to determine the accuracy of the allegation of ‘over regulation’ by CASA in aviation medicine when the claims made involve the health of different individuals and the advice of different medical practitioners, some of which may involve competing opinions.”
New warbird rules take flight
New regulations for ex-military, replica and historic aircraft come into effect on 28 January 2017. Warbirds, which are currently operating under experimental certificates of airworthiness, will transition to a limited category airworthiness certificate. Under a limited category certificate operational rules and airworthiness authorisations will be managed by a self-administering organisation in cooperation with CASA. Transition to the new regulations is required by 28 July 2017. A new manual of standards for the warbird, replica and historic aircraft regulations, which are in Part 132 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, is now available. The manual of standards covers general requirements under the regulations, qualifications and experience requirements, certification and airworthiness requirements, issuing permit index numbers and historic aircraft. New definitions for design philosophy and maintenance levels are included. The manual of standards also prescribes requirements relating to the operation of aircraft, including the type of passenger warning placard that must be displayed and aerodromes unsuitable as landing areas. The new regulations require an extra safety briefing at the point of sale for any adventure flight, as well as before boarding, limits to passenger numbers and conditions for flights over populous areas. Overall, the new rules provide flexibility and certainty around the recreational use of warbirds and limited category historic or replica aircraft.
Find out more about the new warbird and historic aircraft rules.
Safety lessons for pilots
CASA is holding eight safety seminars for pilots around the nation during February 2017. Lessons for life seminars are scheduled at Devonport, Mildura, Hobart, Gympie, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Forbes and Temora. These seminars will focus on fuel management and handling partial power loss in a single engine aircraft. Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation reports nominate these issues as the cause of a high number of accidents. Lessons will be learnt from accidents, with everyone asked to consider how the accident could have been avoided. Other issues may be discussed such as electronic flight bags, regulatory changes, correct procedures to follow at non-controlled aerodromes and the requirements for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast. The seminars also provide an important opportunity for pilots to give feedback and suggestions to CASA.
Book your place for an AvSafety Seminar now.
Drone regulation made easy
Three new easy to understand online resources covering the safety regulation of drones are now available. The documents provide a basic overview of the rules for all categories of drones, remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificates and the remote pilot licence. In the basic overview the new rules for very small commercial operations are set out along with the operating requirements. Very small drone operators must obtain an aviation reference number and then notify CASA at least five days before their first commercial flight. Anyone flying a drone commercially that is not operating in the very small category must obtain a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate. There are benefits from having a certificate such as being able to fly large drones and the ability to apply for a range of additional approvals beyond the standard operating conditions. These can allow operations such as flying at night or within three nautical miles of a controlled aerodrome. There are two ways to gain a remotely piloted aircraft pilot licence. People with no prior aviation knowledge can complete a course with an remotely piloted aircraft system training provider. If a person has already passed an aeronautical knowledge exam for a flight crew licence they only need to complete practical training with an approved training provider and log a minimum of five hours flight time.