Review by the Chief Executive Officer
2007–08 has been a year of strong progress and important achievement in building a more efficient and effective organisation.
In last year’s report I highlighted the achievement of some important targets in our reform process of developing a ‘new CASA’, a more industry facing organisation with a clear focus on producing meaningful safety outcomes, with the best people in the right positions, and with our skilled safety staff spending more time where it matters, in the field and on the tarmac. These were critical goals in a process that began soon after my appointment as CEO, and has involved major changes to our structure, our geographic locations, and the way we conduct our operations.
During 2007–08 the process of building a better organisation has continued, and with the framework for reform largely in place, the focus has been rather more on ‘fine-tuning’ than on introducing further substantial change.
Our three major undertakings for the year, the Aviation Safety Oversight Program to define how individual staff do their work with airlines and operators, adjustments to our organisational groups to facilitate our dealings with industry, and our workforce capability project which relates to the qualifications and experience of our key people, are each through the development phase and are being implemented.
The final key element of CASA’s new management structure was realised in December 2007 with the appointment of Mick Quinn as Deputy CEO Operations, based at our new Operational Headquarters in Brisbane. The basic organisational structure has also been finalised with the establishment of the Airworthiness Engineering Group in July 2008, which further improves the delivery of CASA’s safety oversight of engineering activities.
A key achievement during the year was consolidating our Brisbane-based operational staff from three separate office locations to a single new building on Brisbane Airport, to establish CASA’s Operational Headquarters. This was the final major step in achieving the goal I had set several years ago for CASA to have closer operational engagement with the industry for which we have safety oversight responsibility. One of the early measures I initiated was to move a large number of operational roles out of Canberra and locate them in Brisbane, a significant aviation hub, and at our regional offices around Australia. The bringing together of our Brisbane people into one office has obvious benefits for operational coordination and more efficient use of resources, as well as providing a modern workplace environment for staff. However, it also reflects an outwardly oriented organisation, well placed to engage with industry.
Other important achievements during 2007‑08 included a new focus on the key area of pilot training, with the establishment of the Flight Training and Testing Office within CASA and the commencement of CASA officers conducting flight testing of new flying training instructors. The new Office of Airspace Regulation opened for business on 1 July 2007, and has operated successfully in regulating Australian airspace and managing airspace change proposals.
At an operational level, there has been a substantial increase in CASA’s surveillance of the passenger air transport industry compared to previous years. Protection of the travelling public is CASA’s key priority and the increase in surveillance in this sector has been an important achievement. We significantly increased the number of Aviation Safety Advisor positions, in recognition of the success of these important industry liaison and advice providing roles. We undertook a survey of new and emerging risk factors in the aviation industry, to encourage operators to look beyond existing risks and to think ahead as to how new risks might be identified and addressed. These are just a selection of CASA’s achievements for 2007–08 which are discussed in more detail later in this report.
At a more strategic level we have continued our focus both in terms of regulatory development, and in providing direction to the aviation industry on the value of safety outcomes rather than a simplistic adherence to rules and regulations. The rules and regulations continue to be important, and CASA will continue to enforce them. But we are now moving towards a regulatory environment that requires the industry to focus on its own safety outcomes, and not just on an adherence to process. We have been encouraged by the industry’s acceptance of this approach, as well as the industry’s acceptance that the primary responsibility for aviation safety lies with those who fly and maintain aircraft, manage aerodromes, and train pilots and engineers, rather than with the regulator. CASA can write and enforce the rules, it can ensure operators have proper safety systems in place to manage their risks, it can assist industry with safety education and information, and it can and will act independently and decisively against operators unwilling or unable to maintain appropriate safety standards. While the regulator undertakes surveillance, and is directing even more resources to that end, it cannot be everywhere, checking everything, so the day-to-day responsibility for the safety of a particular operation inevitably lies with the operator. CASA is working hard to ensure everyone in the industry is aware of their safety responsibilities and achieving the best possible safety outcomes.
CASA’s performance as a regulator on the international stage was also brought under scrutiny this year, with the International Civil Aviation Organization audit of Australia’s safety oversight capabilities in February 2008. The results of this audit were extremely positive, as were the outcomes of a US Federal Aviation Administration visit to review CASA’s parts manufacturing approval and oversight processes. All these reviews have provided opportunities for CASA to reflect on its performance and to identify and enact opportunities for improvement.
This year has seen an almost unprecedented level of external scrutiny of CASA. The Senate Inquiry into the administration of CASA was announced in May 2008 and reported in September 2008, and saw some 61 submissions and two days of public hearings. The government is currently considering the recommendations from the report. The Aviation Regulation Review Taskforce met throughout 2007 and its report was made public in June this year. Meanwhile the Miller Review examined in detail the relationship between CASA and the independent aviation safety investigator, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. CASA has accepted the Miller Review’s recommendations and will continue to progress these in the coming year.
The government has announced its intention to appoint a Board for the future governance of CASA. This will of course be subject to the usual government and parliamentary decision-making processes, but it seems likely the Board will be in place during 2009, somewhat after the completion of my formal five-year appointment as CEO of CASA on 30 November 2008. I will relinquish my responsibilities as CEO with the satisfaction that the goals I set at the beginning of my term have essentially been realised. I believe the new CEO and Board, when appointed, will find a renewed and re-invigorated organisation operating with a high degree of efficiency and effectiveness and well placed to meet the challenges of overseeing the safety of a dynamic and ever-changing aviation industry.
Bruce Byron AM
Director of Aviation Safety
and Chief Executive Officer