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Mustering surveillance sweep
The aerial mustering sector in Australia's remote northern region and the north-west region of New South Wales was the focus of the June 2015 surveillance sweep conducted by CASA's Operations Division.
During the mustering sweep, CASA's inspectors took the opportunity to visit air operator certificate holders and private operators in remote areas, conducted surveillance as appropriate, gathered information from the musterers on the challenges they face in light of new regulatory requirements and provided educational material where needed.
Inspectors from CASA's Tamworth, Cairns and Townsville offices led the sweep, which took in visits to Cairns and Townsville, Karumba, Warrenvale, and Cloncurry, along with cattle stations such as Mount Mulgrave, Rutland Plains, Delta Downs and Devoncourt.
CASA's Director of Aviation Safety, Mark Skidmore, joined the surveillance team and met with a number of local operators including, MDH Pty Ltd and Cloncurry Mustering Company Pty Ltd, and paid a visit to Millungera Station.
With Millungera Station alone running 37,000 head of cattle on one million acres, the extent of aviation activity generated by their twice yearly musters is enormous.
Add to this the 11 cattle stations under the banner of MDH Pty Ltd, which runs approximately 175,000 head of cattle, and the critically significant role aviation plays across the north of the country becomes clear.
Due to the weather, the final phase of the surveillance sweep was a road trip conducted out of the Tamworth office, which focused on engagement and education.
CASA's inspectors travelled 2,500 kms over six days and visited multiple air operator certificate holders and private helicopter operators at locations such as Louth, Bourke, Enngonia, Moree and Boomi.
Initially cautious and surprised by CASA's unannounced visits, the operators opened up in their discussions and were appreciative of the engagement opportunities the visits allowed.
The mustering sweep was a very successful exercise which has given CASA a clearer picture of the sector and opened the door for more effective dialogue into the future.
CASA’s Director of Aviation Safety, Mark Skidmore, meeting with John Logan, owner of CP Barkly Helicopters Mount Isa