From acting CEO and Director of Aviation Safety Shane Carmody
An important milestone in Australian aviation was reached this month. Australia and the United States signed off on amendments to our bilateral aviation safety agreement which make Australian access to the lucrative American aviation market cheaper and easier. The changes will benefit Australian aviation parts and products designers and manufacturers, as well as people and companies that export aircraft and aircraft products to the United States. In a range of circumstances these amendments allow for easier acceptance by the US Federal Aviation Administration of CASA supplemental type certificates and associated Australian authorised release certificates. The changes will deliver a significant financial boost for a number of sectors of the Australian aviation industry, including small design organisations, parts suppliers and large airlines. New opportunities will be created to sell existing designs and products and to grow business. Importantly, costs are reduced without compromising safety.
CASA will continue to work with other like-minded safety regulators around the world to develop and improve arrangements that can benefit Australian aviation. We are committed to expanding opportunities for the Australian aviation industry by keeping regulatory burdens as light as possible while maintaining our enviable safety record. Developing and improving these kinds of arrangements is a process of negotiation and co-operation between regulatory partners that takes time and patience, but the results can yield big rewards. I would like to thank everyone who worked on the changes to the bilateral agreement with the United States, including a number of people from the aviation industry.
Spectacular new safety video for VFR pilots
A spectacular new aviation safety video mini-series for visual flight rules and recreational pilots has been released. The ten part series covers a 3350 nautical mile trip from western NSW, through outback Queensland to Cape York, down the Queensland coast and back across country to Bathurst. The journey provides a hands-on explanation of nearly 30 safety topics critical to all stages of flight. These include knowing your aircraft, weight and balance, fuel management, remote flying, fatigue management, radio calls, ageing aircraft, bird strikes, remotely piloted aircraft, emergency procedures and electronic flight bags. The safety information is delivered during interviews with local aviation people with expertise in each topic. Those interviewed include people with experience in outback flying, remote aerodrome refuellers, a Royal Flying Doctor Service representative, an air traffic controller, local pilots, a helicopter mustering pilot and a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer. There are also several interviews with CASA personnel covering CASA activities in regional areas. The ten online videos feature stunning footage taken from cameras mounted on a Cessna 172 flown by chief flying instructor Catherine Fitzsimons. Out-n-Back series two are must see videos for all pilots who appreciate the spectacle and enjoyment of flight across Australia.
Work to find risks to pilot health
An important initiative aimed at improving the understanding of the health of pilots has been launched. The Queensland Institute of Medical Research approached CASA about a collaborative project with air operators to identify medical risk areas in the pilot population. CASA’s principal medical officer, Dr Michael Drane, says data will be drawn from within CASA’s medical records system, which contains a “treasure trove” of longitudinal medical data dating back to the 1990’s. Dr Drane says: “This data, which does not identify individuals, can be used to pinpoint medical problems and how they have developed in the pilot population by applying a scientific method to this unique occupational group. We can then be ahead of the game in identifying risk areas, looking to reduce risks and in prevention. A number of projects are being considered, with one of the first areas to be studied being the skin cancer melanoma and the increased incidence in pilots. The aviation environment may be contributing to melanoma risks and we are looking to understand the nature of this illness in aviation.” The project is consistent with updated International Civil Aviation Organization Standards and Recommended Practices which provide a role for safety regulators in aviation health promotion and preventative health care. Other health areas that may be examined in the future include obesity, sleep apnoea and pterygia – growths on the eye which have been linked to exposure to ultraviolet light.
Comment now on class G frequencies
All pilots are being urged to have their say on the most appropriate radio frequency to use at low levels in uncontrolled airspace. A discussion paper has been issued setting out two options for radio broadcasts in the vicinity of aerodromes in class G airspace that are not marked on aeronautical charts. The options are to use the appropriate area frequency or the MULTICOM frequency 126.7. This issue impacts all pilots that fly in uncontrolled airspace and CASA is calling for a wide response to the discussion paper. The discussion paper sets out detailed arguments and safety assessments for both options, as well as looking at overseas practice. CASA’s acting CEO and Director of Aviation Safety, Shane Carmody, said there were various views on the issue and it is time to determine the best outcome in the interests of aviation safety. Mr Carmody said: “To do that we need all pilots to send us their comments now. We want to hear from recreational pilots, private pilots, commercial pilots, aerial work operators and airline flight crew. CASA will not make a final decision on the class G frequency issue until we carefully review all feedback and publish a summary of the results of the consultation.”
Drones on the up and up
The number of drones in the Australian sky is growing rapidly. Tens of thousands of people now fly drones for fun and thousands more are in commercial and aerial work operations. There are now more than 950 holders of remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificates and nearly 4000 people have notified CASA of their intention to operate in the new under two kilogram commercial category. There are more than 4600 people who hold a remote pilot licence, which authorises them to fly for certified remotely piloted aircraft operators. In 2013 there were 60 certified remotely piloted aircraft operators and 166 remote pilot licence holders. With all this growth in drone operations there inevitably comes a level of complaints or reports of potentially unsafe operations. To streamline the reporting of complaints and incidents CASA has set up an online form to capture the essential information required for a potential investigation. The form asks for available evidence such as images or videos, the date, time and location of the incident, identification details of the drone and the identity of the drone pilot. It is made clear that for an investigation to take place CASA must have sufficient evidence of a potential breach of the drone safety regulations, as well as evidence of the person controlling the drone at the time.
Government GA advisory group meets
The federal government’s new General Aviation Advisory Group met for the first time in March 2017. There was discussion about a range of key issues including the classification of operations, levels of flying activity, skills and training, and regulatory reform. The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester attended the meeting in Canberra and said direct engagement between the industry and the government was key to achieving the common goal of a safe, growing and sustainable aviation industry. "The General Aviation Advisory Group will ensure the industry has a voice at the heart of Government by providing advice directly to me on matters affecting the general aviation sector,” Mr Chester said. He reiterated that the aviation sector should develop strategies to attract young people, including more women, into the industry. The Group received a briefing from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics on the progress of the General Aviation Study and members provided initial comments to inform the study going forward. The Group also agreed on its terms of reference and operating protocols. “I look forward to working with the General Aviation Advisory Group to address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead for the sector in Australia,” Mr Chester said
Safety seminars for pilots on now
CASA is holding seven safety seminars for pilots around the nation during April 2017. Lessons for life seminars are scheduled at Derby, Broome, Dubbo, Mudgee, Bathurst, Geraldton and Maitland – York Peninsula. 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.
Seminar in Broome for engineers
An engineering safety seminar is being held in Broome on 4 April 2017. The seminar is aimed at people in airworthiness roles such as engineers, the head of aircraft airworthiness and maintenance, continuing airworthiness management, air operators and training organisations. CASA aims to support the professional development of people in these safety critical roles by providing access to the latest best practice, information and resources. Importantly the seminar will also provide the opportunity to ask questions and raise issues with CASA. Topics covered will include the maintenance responsibilities of the registered operator, registration holder, responsible manager, aircraft owner and licensed aircraft maintenance engineer; defect reporting; tool control; and the Part 64 review. Part 64 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations covers the requirements needed for an authorisation to operate an aeronautical radio or the authority to taxi an aeroplane.
Time to comment on maintenance engineer licence regs
Everyone in the aircraft maintenance sector is being urged to have their say on issues relating to maintenance engineer licences and ratings. CASA is seeking comments to inform a review of Part 66 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, the Part 66 Manual of Standards and associated advisory material. Part 66 covers aircraft maintenance engineer licensing. The review is seeking to reduce the complexity of the maintenance licensing regulations and standards, fix anomalies and unintended consequences, remove ambiguities and provide a more progressive licensing system that includes a small aircraft licence. It will also ensure the regulations are optimised to support the required competency outcomes and improve the way privileges are stated on licences to provide clarity. The introduction of a proposed new small aircraft maintenance licensing structure, which was to have started on 4 July 2016, has been postponed while the review is underway. This follows requests from maintenance training organisations and aviation representative groups. While the review is being conducted people can still gain an aircraft engineer licence for the maintenance of small aircraft using the CASA basics examinations and schedule of experience system.