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Reviewing the rules for aerodromes (Part 139)
CASR Part 139 and the Part 139 Manual of Standards for aerodromes were some of the first rule parts to transition to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 in 2003. The ruleset has undergone a comprehensive post-implementation review as part of CASA's standard rules development and implementation process.
The review considered issues of complexity, inflexibility, cost and regulatory impact. It was also a chance to align the rules with international best practice and the latest amendments to ICAO standards for aerodromes published in Annex 14.
Following the review process, the rules have been updated to reflect changes in the industry, technology, international standards and best practice. They are intended to be more flexible and practical to suit the diversity of aerodrome operations.
View the feedback from public consultation on the proposed updated rules.
View the regulatory progress timeline for finalising and implementing the rules.
Proposed changes at a glance
- Aerodromes will be either 'regulated' (certified) or 'unregulated', reducing complexity.
- Only aerodromes with instrument flight procedures would be required to be regulated (as per current rules), otherwise regulation is voluntary.
- Administrative and system requirements will be scalable, dependent on the size and complexity of the aerodrome operations and associated risk.
- Physical standards will be more flexible, with minimum, maximum and new 'preferred' limits to suit a variety of practical situations. These design standards can be implemented as infrastructure is built, replaced or upgraded.
- There are new options and standards to use enhanced visual aids to improve safety.
- Inspection and reporting requirements for all aerodromes will support risk-based regulatory surveillance.
- Existing aerodrome facilities will continue to be 'grandfathered' until they are upgraded or replaced.
- Aerodromes currently issued exemptions under Part 11 of CASR may now be granted a wider range of enduring approvals subject to a suitable safety case being provided to CASA. This option is also available for aerodrome operators who wish to explore alternative means of compliance and can demonstrate an acceptable level of safety.
Questions and answers about the proposed rules
- Do I need to build new infrastructure?
- Any aerodrome infrastructure that exists once the rules commence would be 'grandfathered', so there would be no need to meet new infrastructure standards unless undertaking upgrades or building new facilities in the future. General maintenance is not considered an upgrade. The infrastructure standards applicable to new or upgraded facilities would depend on the size and operations of the aerodrome. Many standards would have a range of acceptable limits to ensure they could be applied across different environments. In situations where they couldn't be applied, there may be the opportunity to gain an enduring approval based on a safety case accepted by CASA.
- What do the rules mean for aerodromes with instrument flight procedures?
- Unlike the current rules, the updated rules propose that the only trigger for mandatory certification would be the presence of instrument flight procedures. This trigger, however, would not be a new requirement. All aerodromes with instrument flight procedures are currently required to be registered or certified. Any aerodrome without instrument flight procedures would also be able to become certified, but this would be optional. Existing 'registered' aerodromes would be reclassified as 'certified' and would need to have an aerodrome manual. The requirements for the manual would be scalable, based on the aerodrome's operations and capacity, and in many cases would simply mean building existing documentation into the manual.
- What will aerodrome operators need to do?
- Existing certified or registered aerodromes or aerodrome operators seeking certification would be required to assess and notify CASA of the operational capability of their aerodrome, including regular passenger numbers and aircraft movements. This would establish whether they reach higher risk trigger points requiring further safety management, enhanced documentation and technical inspections. Aerodromes that don't reach these trigger points would have different documentation requirements and only need to annually advise if their manual or reported obstacle information needs updating. Existing certified or registered aerodromes could also choose to incorporate the new standards for enhanced visual aids. Additionally, aerodrome operators would need to nominate an 'accountable manager' to meet and report on compliance matters to CASA.
- What help will I get to transition to the rules?
- CASA will provide a range of guidance material and practical tools to make the transition process easier once the rules are in place. One of the optional tools will be the Manual Authoring and Assessment Tool (MAAT), a web-based tool that provides instructions, templates and sample text for building a manual. Making small updates is a quick and simple process with this platform, and it provides transparency around the approval process with a CASA delegate. CASA will issue supporting templates and guidance for transition including a transition table which will outline the compliance standards that must be met for each aerodrome category at each safety and risk trigger point.
- What do pilots need to know?
- Over time, there may be minor changes to visual aids (signs and lights) at aerodromes to align with ICAO Annex 14. Pilots may also see new visuals aids such as lit markings indicating runway unserviceability. There would be some changes to the aeronautical information publication (AIP) to resolve duplication with Part 175 and the code number 'CN' would now refer to the obstacle limitation surface (OLS) provided for that runway. The other direct change would be that aircraft could not land on the runway strip of an aerodrome unless this was specifically published as being permissible in the AIP.
- What is an 'accountable manager'?
- The rules would require aerodrome personnel to nominate an 'accountable manager' responsible for meeting and reporting on compliance matters to CASA. The intent of this proposal is to improve communication flow and transparency in regulatory matters and would align the regulation with the way CASA already engages with aerodrome operators through the CASA Surveillance Manual.
- When will the rules take effect?
- CASA conducted public consultation on the proposed updated rules, which closed in December 2017. Respondents broadly supported the 11 proposals for change. Respondents most commonly provided feedback and suggestions for change on the triggers for certification, the responsibilities of the proposed ‘accountable manager’ position, the ‘safety outcome’ aerodrome operators are required to meet, and the scalability of the standards for different aerodrome operations. All feedback on technical aspects has been compiled and mapped against the regulation and manual of standards, for resolution at technical project workshops with industry. Recommendations for change to the regulatory material will be considered by a technical working group (TWG) and the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) for advice before final drafting. For the current timeframe for finalising the Part 139 rules and implementing the changes, please see the regulatory progress timeline.
CASR Part 139 regulations
Read more about the Part 139 regulations.