Message from the Chair of the Board
CASA's performance in 2012-13, as described in this annual report, was a positive continuation of the important reform program commenced in 2009 when the current Board and Director of Aviation Safety were appointed. It is timely, therefore, that I use this opportunity to briefly outline what has changed since 2009, and where CASA stands today as a strong and effective aviation safety regulator.
CASA is recognised internationally as a leading aviation safety agency. Australia contributes to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a category 1 status member, and CASA staff are actively pursued to participate in ICAO's development of global rules for aviation safety. CASA staff currently serve on 11 panels and 10 task forces and study groups. The Director of Aviation Safety is Chair of the ICAO Aviation Safety Group for the Asia and Pacific regions, and CASA is engaged in important programs to promote aviation safety in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific island countries, appropriately benefiting their citizens as well as the many Australians who rely on their systems of aviation safety. CASA has also entered into agreements with other countries to ensure mutual recognition of design and certification processes—including most recently with Singapore, which, like Australia, has adopted the European Aviation Safety Agency rules as the basis for its regulations.
CASA now has a Standards Division staffed with qualified and dedicated subject-matter experts tasked with a central role in the delivery of the regulatory reform program that forms a key part of government policy and directions to CASA. The substantial task in preparing new regulations—consultation with involved stakeholders, guiding the regulation-making process through the legal drafting stage and producing comprehensive educational and advisory materials to support those affected by the new rules—involves many people and other resources. Principal regulatory packages relating to maintenance and flight crew licensing, flying training, the maintenance of aircraft involved in regular public transport operations, and fatigue risk management for flight crew have been delivered, and our current schedule will see the remaining rules completed by the end of next year. These new rules are written for a contemporary aviation industry and technologies, and will replace many that were first drafted over 30 years ago. Since 2010, nearly 200 new rules, rules amendments and guidance documents have been finalised or are nearing completion, and this has been done with the active involvement and cooperation of the Australian aviation industry.
Implementation of the new regulations is being carefully phased to ensure that CASA and industry have the necessary capacity to absorb them properly. To facilitate this process, and in line with the schedule, CASA is developing and communicating contemporary educational material for industry.
Where compelling reasons are advanced to refine or alter a regulatory course CASA has adopted, even after the exhaustive consultative processes that have preceded that adoption, CASA has responded. Like our counterpart agencies in Europe and North America, we are working hard to keep abreast of rapid technological and operational developments. An example is in the field of remotely piloted aircraft, where the Director has created a new office to concentrate on these activities and aircraft, carefully balancing new technology and capability with the primacy of safety.
Safety education is a central feature of CASA's efforts to achieve safe skies for all, and our Safety Education and Promotion Division is dedicated to the development and delivery of safety-critical information and advice to the industry and the wider aviation community. CASA has established a dedicated training centre where staff and, increasingly, industry participants, are benefiting from safety-related specialist training. A Safety Systems office has also been set up to bring modern methodologies and analytical processes to the identification and treatment of emerging trends and systemic issues that impact on aviation safety. CASA is a learning organisation that takes thorough account of information about safety-related events and expert reports and studies produced by other agencies and organisations and seeks to learn from past mistakes and deficiencies, and improve aviation safety systems accordingly.
Since his appointment in 2009, the Director has made internal governance and the efficiency, standardisation and consistency of CASA's approach to aviation safety and industry surveillance key areas of emphasis. While there is still work to be done, our new methods have been recognised internationally, and CASA has been invited to present its risk-based approach to surveillance at major international conferences organised by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the US Federal Aviation Administration. The Director is ensuring that CASA's regulatory decision-making and enforcement are scrupulously evidence-based, transparent, fair and consistent. Significant progress has been made in realigning CASA's priorities and resources, and this period of profound and rapid change has resulted in demonstrably higher workloads for all our staff. The work has involved challenges, but it has improved aviation safety and continues to do so.
CASA's Board has regularly and actively engaged with key industry participants at their board and executive management level to remain up to date with industry issues and to provide the opportunity for direct feedback. In addition, the Director continues his demanding program of visits to operators and certificate holders, particularly in regional Australia. This level of direct engagement has been recognised by the industry as beneficial to their interests, and has resulted in an overall high level of satisfaction with CASA's direction and leadership.
While CASA now has more people and more resources engaged in industry oversight, it cannot be everywhere all the time, and inspectors cannot anticipate or intervene to prevent every contravention of good aviation practice or the safety rules. Nor can CASA pre-empt all poor or ill-informed decision-making by individuals or the organisations that employ them. A more consistent and transparent approach to industry surveillance and a greater commitment to the requirements of the safety legislation have not been embraced by all industry organisations and individuals.
A small number report dissatisfaction with the direction of CASA or a regulatory decision that impacts on them, and this has sometimes resulted in a negative headline. The aviation industry is broad and complex and is subject to a high level of scrutiny and public comment, and CASA will never satisfy all interests.
Modern regulations and more effective surveillance and enforcement will, however, improve aviation safety in Australia, and CASA has the overwhelming support and endorsement of the industry.
CASA is subject to a high level of external scrutiny through programs of audit and inspection by ICAO, peer organisations such as the US Federal Aviation Administration, and the Australian National Audit Office. These Audits have confirmed CASA's performance as a leading aviation safety regulator and contribute to CASA's program of continuous improvement.
The year 2012-13 has therefore, in the judgment of the Board, been one of continued progress and success, and one in which Australia's enviable aviation safety record and CASA's international reputation have been further enhanced. CASA continues to deliver all elements of the Government's agenda and priorities in aviation safety through its comprehensive risk-based planning processes, which are monitored through a well-established reporting regime. I acknowledge and appreciate the continued support of my Board colleagues in achieving this and I have no hesitation in reporting that the Board is proud of CASA's performance, proud of the leadership and achievements of the Director of Aviation Safety, and proud to work with the dedicated staff who every day contribute to 'Safe skies for all'.
Allan Hawke AC Chair of the Board