Review by the Director of Aviation Safety
As CASA's Director of Aviation Safety, I am delighted to have taken up my tenure in CASA's 20th anniversary year.
Since its establishment on 6 July 1995 as an independent statutory body under the Civil Aviation Act 1988, CASA has had an unwavering focus on keeping our skies safe for the many people who utilise air travel.
There is no doubt there have been some challenging times over the past 20 years, but it is clear to me that the travelling public's confidence in the safety of air travel in this country is a direct result of the work that has been done over many years.
This year has been a period of resetting the direction for CASA, from a broad government perspective, with the appointment of new Board members and the release of the Government's response to the recommendations arising from the Aviation Safety Regulation Review (ASRR), through to my overview of the organisation to ensure that we are adequately staffed and equipped for the future.
The report to government from the ASRR panel was tabled in Parliament on 3 June 2014.
The panel's report contained 37 recommendations, 32 of which related to the functions and performance of CASA which, following the consideration of comments from the public, industry and key aviation agencies, resulted in the Government's response, tabled by the Minister on 3 December 2014.
On 14 April 2015, the Minister provided CASA with his Statement of Expectations. This included a specific requirement that CASA implement the Government's response to the CASA-specific recommendations from the ASRR in an effective and timely manner. This report includes an update on our progress in implementing the recommendations.
For the 2014–15 reporting period, CASA's priorities included:
- responding to the Government's response to the recommendations from the ASRR and developing an implementation plan to be embedded in CASA's Corporate Plan 2015–16 to 2018–19
- meeting and engaging with the aviation community through industry visits, aviation safety seminars and ongoing forums
- continuing regulatory reform activities, which have resulted in the issuance of a series of ‘first' certificates as new regulations have come into effect
- renewing the structural and governance arrangements in place for CASA's key internal committees
- developing a new corporate plan, taking into account legislative and government changes such as the introduction of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Regulator Performance Framework, which introduces specified key performance indicators for the first time
- implementing changes to the composition and focus of the CASA Board
- undertaking a functional review of the organisation to ensure that roles and responsibilities align, to maximise our safety oversight.
Investing in relationships
This is a time for the reinvigoration of relationships between CASA and the wider aviation community. Since taking up my appointment on 1 January 2015, I have met with, and listened to, many passionate people in the aviation community. In a diverse group of people, individuals' views will differ, but we share a goal to maintain and improve on Australia's enviable aviation safety record.
I recognise that establishing and maintaining positive relationships and engagement with the aviation community will be integral to CASA's development and implementation of the best possible safety standards, delivery of effective safety education and achievement of operational outcomes.
Through a range of forums and meetings with many people at all levels in the aviation community, I have made it clear that my goal will be for CASA to forge a closer working relationship with all sectors of aviation. As an organisation, CASA is committed to an appropriate safety partnership where we all play our roles in getting the best from the aviation safety system. Constructive criticism plays an important part in allowing an organisation to strive for continuous improvement and, where CASA is deservedly criticised, we will respond in an appropriate manner.
In 2012, CASA introduced the first phase of the certificate management team approach to the Operations Division, bringing together team members with airworthiness, flying operations and safety systems expertise into a single structure when managing all aspects of air operator certificates. Following this first phase, a post-implementation review was conducted in late 2014 to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach. The feedback has been very positive and, as a result, we will be further refining the way in which the teams are structured to ensure the skills and experience of our people are most effectively utilised.
Following the Germanwings crash on 24 March 2015, in which the preliminary report from the French Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authority (BEA) indicated that the pilot had been locked out of the cockpit by the co-pilot, CASA's senior management participated in a meeting chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and joined by representatives from the major airlines and the Regional Aviation Association of Australia. The outcome from the meeting was that the standard operating procedures for the airlines would be amended to require two members of the operating crew or authorised persons to be on the flight deck at all times. Those protocols are in place for regular passenger transport services where the aircraft has seating for 50 or more passengers, with operational discretion remaining with the pilot in command.
The effectiveness of these arrangements will be reviewed after 12 months. In the event that aircraft manufacturers make changes to the aircraft engineering systems which control cockpit access, CASA will monitor such developments as they relate to aircraft used by Australian airlines.
Sector risk profiling
Building up a picture of the key risks facing a sector of the aviation industry at a specific point in time is what is behind CASA's sector risk profiling work. Sector risk profiling identifies sector-specific risks and develops a deep understanding of the effects of risks that sector participants must address in order to maximise their aviation safety performance. During the reporting period, CASA worked closely with the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia Limited to validate CASA's methodology to produce a risk profile on the aerial application sector.
This collaborative work resulted in the publication of a comprehensive sector risk profile for agricultural aviation.
Sector representatives have agreed to contribute to the development of detailed safety performance indicators that flow from the risks identified in the profile.
CASA's Annual Report 2013–14 received a gold award at the 2015 Australasian Reporting Awards. This is the third consecutive year CASA's reporting has been recognised as having met the criteria in this sought-after category. In addition, the work health and safety section of the report won the Safe Work Australia sponsored category of the Australasian Reporting Awards.
Additionally, for the first time, CASA's report was one of six finalists for the prestigious Report of the Year category. This achievement is a solid endorsement of the work that has been ongoing over a number of years to consolidate and improve all aspects of CASA's internal and external reporting.
The aviation sector in the global economy is witnessing rapid changes, with aircraft and navigational technological developments, the rise of emerging economies, substantial increases in passenger aircraft fleets and socioeconomic developments. These changes will have implications for many parts of the aviation industry, ranging from passenger aircraft operations, to aerial work, to personal, sport and recreational aviation. The growth and complexity in CASA's operating environment through to 2030 will require CASA to not only keep pace with the change but also come up with effective strategic responses to maintain and enhance a safe and cost-effective regulatory environment.
In addition to CASA's short- to medium-term planning, detailed in the Corporate Plan, it is my intention to develop and publish by the end of 2015–16 a statement of CASA's long-term strategic intent, Flight Plan 2030, broadly setting out CASA's objectives over the next 15 years. The plan will identify CASA's future path and will help the aviation community to better understand our commitment to, and shared interest in, the promotion of aviation safety in and for Australia.
Both the Corporate Plan 2015–16 to 2018–19 and Flight Plan 2030 will identify CASA's future path and will help our stakeholders to better understand our commitment and shared interest in promoting aviation safety in Australia.
My goals for the year ahead include:
- establishing a framework to implement the Government's response to the ASRR report
- providing service delivery with clear key performance indicators
- inculcating and implementing a rational ‘just culture' approach in CASA's regulatory dealings with all members of the regulated community
- developing our workforce to meet the challenges of the future.
In addition, improving communication, reducing cost, removing complexity and ensuring consistency are four guiding principles I am committed to and have asked all of our people to keep in mind. Each represents significant opportunity for CASA's growth and improvement as an organisation, and I will be using these touchstones throughout my time as Director of Aviation Safety.
Outcomes not achieved
The draft Sydney Basin Aeronautical Study was scheduled to be completed by December 2014. However, due to the complexity and political sensitivity of the project, it required additional consultation within government agencies prior to public consultation and was not released for public comment until 30 March 2015. CASA received responses from eight organisations and one individual. A total of 67 comments were received, of which 57 were positive or neutral. The final report will be released in July 2015.
The operations regulations were not completed in 2014–15 as planned. The regulations were subject to additional assessment following the ASRR report and also a review of regulatory cost impacts, in accordance with the Government's deregulation agenda. The operations regulations are planned for completion in 2015.
Although progress has been made with the transfer of all regulatory service applications to the single service centre, this will not be finalised until the delivery of the remaining modules in CASA's Aviation information Management System (AiMS) and the development of online services.
CASA recorded an operating deficit of $5.5 million in 2014–15, compared to a $4.2 million deficit in 2013–14. The difference of $1.3 million reflects the overall result of a decrease in income of $3.1 million offset by a decrease in expenses of $1.8 million. This was mainly due to a reduction in aviation fuel excise receipts and a decrease in employee benefits expenses. Further information on CASA's financial results is on pages 18 to 22.
In what has been a year of leadership change for CASA, I would like to thank our people for their ongoing support, openness and willingness to engage during the transition period.
There is no doubt that for many of us aviation is a lifetime passion, and it is indeed a privilege when we are fortunate enough to find ourselves working in a field we love. It is with this in mind that I recognise the enormous contribution made by CASA's Deputy Director of Aviation Safety, Mr Terry Farquharson. After a 50-year career in aviation, 16 of those with CASA, and the last six in the deputy director's role, Terry will be leaving CASA in July 2015 to pursue and enjoy a very well earned next phase of his working and personal life.
I am proud to lead CASA on a path towards real improvement in everything we do. I believe this organisation is one of the leading aviation safety regulators in the world, with high-quality staff and fair and appropriate processes. Working together with my people and the aviation community to achieve CASA's vision of Safe skies for all will form the foundation of my tenure with CASA.
Mark Skidmore AM Director of Aviation Safety