RAAA 2010 Convention
Presentation by Director of Aviation Safety John McCormick, 15 September 2010
CASA: The first year and the future
Thank you for inviting me to address the convention.
I am very proud of the tremendous progress made by CASA since I last spoke to this conference. So, it seems appropriate that I might reflect with you on the changes CASA has made in the past year and provide some thoughts on where I think CASA will go in the coming year.
It is fair to say we are a different organisation to the CASA of the past and I have no doubt CASA will be an even more effective organisation this time next year.
We have restructured the organisation to align CASA with the Civil Aviation Act and are in the process of working through our policies, processes and delegations.
We have implemented changes to the procedures around non-towered aerodromes and brought our Class D airspace in line with international standards.
We have moved closer to finalising our responses to the International Civil Aviation Organization audit findings as well as addressing the Federal Aviation Administration International Aviation Safety Assessment findings which suggested areas for improvement – areas we were already focussing on.
We have reviewed and revised many of the aviation safety regulations and this process will continue into next year.
We have a comprehensive training and professional development program in place to ensure our staff remain competent, capable and proficient.
In February this year, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Martin Dolan, Chief Commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. The MOU is an important formal framework that builds on the existing relationship between our organisations.
On the whole, there will be further changes as we go along but I do not expect these will be major. Rather, there may be further improvements and streamlining as our processes become more efficient.
I would now like to go into more detail on what steps CASA has undertaken to improve as an organisation in the past year.
CASA received a number of recommendations from the International Civil Aviation Organization Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme conducted in February 2008. The Government has committed to complete the majority of Australia’s corrective actions by the end of 2010 and CASA is on track to complete the recommendations that fall under our responsibility.
The Aviation White Paper presented CASA with some significant Regulatory Reform challenges, including a requirement to complete the reform by the end of 2011. Regulatory Reform is partly a misnomer – we currently have a comprehensive set of effective regulations in place – but we are enhancing, modernising and refining these.
Most of you would be aware that Regulatory Reform involves replacing existing CARs and CAOs with new CASR Parts that are numbered similarly to the US FAR Parts. To date, just over half of the 60 proposed CASR Parts have been made and implemented. The remaining half, however, form the core of our aviation safety regulatory program, comprising the Maintenance suite, Operational suite, and Flight Crew Licensing suite. The Sport and Recreational Aviation suite of CASRs is also yet to be finalised and implemented.
Finalising and implementing the outstanding CASR suites involves a huge amount of work and considerable resources for CASA and the Attorney General’s Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing (OLDP), not to mention the resources that industry has to devote to reviewing and commenting on our consultation documents and draft regulations. In addition to drafting the legal text of the new regulations, we also have to ensure that we publish adequate advisory and guidance material, supported by training and education materials, for both industry and CASA staff.
In the past, progress with Regulatory Reform has been affected by shifts in CASA policy, competing Government legal drafting priorities, and the fact that CASA’s policy and standards functions were fragmented across several organisational groups. These impediments have now been addressed.
In order to meet the commitments and deadlines for Regulatory Reform as set out in the Aviation White Paper, CASA and the Attorney General’s Department have adopted a taskforce approach. The taskforce comprises legal drafters from the OLDP working with CASA legal officers, and technical staff who develop and instruct on our regulatory policies. The taskforce members are co-located on OLDP premises.
The maintenance suite of CASRs is on track to be made this year and implemented commencing in June 2011, for RPT operators. The new maintenance regulations, as they apply to charter operators, aerial work operators and private operators, will be phased in over future years. LAME licences will transition more immediately, starting next June when the new regulations take effect.
The Operational rules (for Air Transport Operations) and Flight Crew Licensing suite of CASRs are currently being drafted by the OLDP and good progress is being made. As individual CASR Parts come out of legal drafting we will be consulting on the content with our industry stakeholders. Based on current progress, we expect these consultations to commence in November, starting with Part 91 –General Operating and Flight Rules.
CASA will develop and deliver a comprehensive implementation program for the new CASR suites, with a view to ensuring a smooth and safe transition. Implementation periods will be sufficiently long to allow both operators and CASA to comply with all implementation requirements.
Last year we re-established a Standards division within CASA to be the focal point for the development of our substantive regulatory policies and standards. It will be a year or two before this division is fully staffed and is in a position to assume full responsibility for our standards program. The organisational change has already started to provide dividends however, in terms of achieving progress with Regulatory Reform.
I should also mention that if regulatory issues need to be addressed on a more urgent basis and in advance of the new CASR Parts, we will continue to make use of CAR and CAO amendments, as we have done in the past. For example, CAO amendments mandating SMS for RPT operators were made in 2009, well in advance of our future Part 119 requirements for SMS. While we are trying to minimise the number of interim CAR and CAO amendments that we make, in many cases early implementation will facilitate future implementation of the same requirements in the new CASR Parts.
I am confident that we are on track to meet the Government’s timeframe for completion of all the regulations by the end of 2011 and this will be good news for everyone in the industry.
The recent Class D changes promotion campaign is a good indicator of how CASA will approach the communication of regulatory changes in future. The campaign included mail-outs, advertising in airports, mobile signage, face-to-face seminar presentations, distribution of safety packages and the provision of eLearning modules to allow pilots to familiarise themselves with the new procedures. The feedback I have received has been overwhelmingly positive and we are hoping to build on that campaign style of education and communication for future major regulatory changes. The campaign to communicate the changes to the maintenance regulations is being developed and will be progressively rolled out over the coming year. It might end up looking a little different to the Class D changes campaign in that different communication methods may be used but this is to make sure the campaign effectively reaches the identified target audiences at the right time with the appropriate information.
Industry consultation and input is central to the success of the Regulatory Reform program. In addition to the normal public consultation processes such as Discussion Papers and Notices of Proposed Rule Making, CASA is also keen to engage industry through the various consultative bodies we have established. This includes the Standards Consultative Committee, the Sport Aviation Safety Forum and the newly formed Regional Aviation Safety Forum which together provide a variety of avenues to discuss aviation safety issues. The Regional Aviation Safety Forum or “RASF”, in particular, provides a more informal venue to raise issues that are of concern to operators in the regions. The RAAA is ably represented at the forum and all participants welcomed the opportunity to raise issues directly with me. Further meetings of the RASF will be held on a bi-annual basis with the next meeting to be held in March 2011.
With all this consultation going on I should remind you that the practice of the past, where failure to achieve consensus frequently paralysed action, sometimes for years, will not continue. I do not intend to let the consultation process bog down into a stalemate as this will not help industry or CASA.
At the end of the day, consultation does not equate to agreement with or among all affected stakeholders. While all views will be seriously considered and taken into account, CASA, as the safety regulator, will still make the final regulatory decisions.
CASA has recently undertaken a number of reforms to strengthen its governance including the development of an overall governance manual, the clearer documentation of policies, processes and procedures, the closer alignment of CASA’s organisational structure with the requirements of the Civil Aviation Act, targeted training to improve workforce capability, an enhanced accountability framework and the deployment of more resources to surveillance and oversight.
There have been changes to the senior management structure, with a new Deputy Director who is focusing on the development of key aspects of Australia’s State Safety Program and CASA’s Safety Management System, and an Associate Director who oversees the further development of CASA’s regulatory and governance policies and practices.
The Industry Complaints Commissioner position has been reformed to provide members of the public and aviation industry with an identifiable and accessible means through which they can register complaints about CASA employees. The enhanced role of the ICC is also a positive for CASA since professional management of complaints can result in better CASA – client relationships as well as the identification of problems in systems and processes that can then be improved.
To complement the role of the ICC, CASA has established a new committee, the Ethics and Conduct Committee, to ensure that allegations or complaints about employee behaviour, which have not been able to be resolved through the normal managerial process, are dealt with impartially, openly and expeditiously. The terms of reference for the both the ICC and the Ethics and Conduct Committee are available on the CASA website.
Alignment of Policy and Procedures
The process of aligning policies and processes continues. While there are organisational benefits, there is also a flow on effect for industry. Alignment of policies and procedures across the organisation should go some way to ensuring consistent advice and service irrespective of the area of CASA that you are dealing with. The process of evaluating our processes and procedures will remain ongoing to ensure consistency into the future.
Education and training of staff
The success of any organisation depends very much on the quality of its people.
CASA has a dedicated and professional staff but, like many in the aviation industry, we have an ageing staff profile. We also have similar difficulties in attracting and retaining skilled staff who continue to be in high demand across the industry.
Technical training was identified as an issue by the International Civil Aviation Organization in its 2008 audit and the FAA IASA audit and this has been a priority for us. We have responded by developing a comprehensive technical training and professional development program to enhance staff capability in areas such as leadership, regulatory skills and technical expertise.
This includes continuous monitoring and evaluation to make sure our training needs continue to be met.
Ageing aircraft is an ongoing problem in Australia with an average age of around 30 years for single and twin piston fixed wing aircraft. CASA recognises that the high replacement costs are forcing operators to continue using old aircraft despite being past their "use by date". Industry's challenge is to ensure that older aircraft are maintained to the same high standards as new aircraft despite the safety risks that inevitably develop as aircraft systems wear, break or leak. The 2009 Aviation White Paper identified ageing aircraft as a priority and this year CASA has commenced an Ageing Aircraft Management Plan (AAMP) to study and report on the issue.
The AAMP is currently in the first phase that will report in December 2010. Phase one activities include scoping the extent of the problem, identifying high risk fleets and seeking expert external independent advice. There will be extensive consultation as part of this process as well as visits to maintenance facilities. CASA is not seeking a one-size-fits-all outcome and will consider all inputs in the process. At the end of the day, CASA is fully supportive of the continued use of Ageing Aircraft – providing it can be done safely.
Like other safety regulators CASA faces a number of challenges in a changing international environment, a dynamic international and domestic industry, and the need to ensure that safety related considerations are at the forefront of our thinking.
In closing I would like to leave you with words from the Australian National Aviation Policy Statement:
“Safety is crucial to the aviation industry and must underpin every aspect of its operation. Safety needs to be at the foundation of every agency, every business and every flight.”