Statement by CEO to Senate committee hearings, January 2007
Statement by CEO to Senate committee
Inquiry into the Airspace Bill 2006 and Airspace (Consequentials and Other Measures) Bill 2006
31 January 2007
Your consideration of the legislation to establish the Office of Airspace Regulation within the Civil Aviation Safety Authority comes at a time of change and reform in CASA.
Very substantial and very positive progress has already been made on implementing a wide range of reforms to CASA’s directions, structures, resources, people and processes.
More important reforms are planned for this year and into the future, with work under way right now on scoping initiatives that focus on CASA’s operational areas our front line.
If this legislation goes ahead, the new Office of Airspace Regulation will be operating in a dynamic environment of improvement that is firmly focussed on achieving world-leading safety outcomes for Australian aviation and the travelling public.
Airspace regulatory functions sit well with all of CASA’s safety regulator functions.
If the legislation passes, CASA will have the Office of Airspace Regulation operational by the middle of this year and planning is now underway to meet this timeframe.
Recruitment for key positions has started and an implementation plan for the Office has been developed, while the processes and systems to be used by the Office are being documented.
The Office of Airspace Regulation will continue to provide routine designation and administration of airspace, as well as establishing a review program for existing airspace designation and services to make sure they continue to be appropriate.
Larger airspace system changes will be carried out in line with the policy statement the Government has announced it will deliver on airspace reform.
Every day of the week CASA is engaged in activities that are making tangible improvements to the way airlines and other aviation organisations operate.
Through audits and additional surveillance we identify potential safety weaknesses or solutions to organisational problems and our education and training lifts the performance of aviation personnel.
This work goes on largely unheralded and unnoticed by the general public and that is how it should be.
CASA’s role is to be largely in the background, supporting the aviation industry which has the primary role for delivering safety day in and day out.
In addition, we did not seek to make a big song and dance in public about our improvement program, with the focus on real and lasting change.
This is an important point because it mirrors most of the work we do with the aviation industry.
It is when we become aware that safety risks are not being managed properly or safety is deliberately being flouted that CASA takes serious actions that quite properly have a high public profile.
Australia’s excellent aviation safety record shows that CASA is in reality a quiet achiever, with a low accident rate our strongest testimonial.
Never-the-less, we do not believe we should rest on Australia’s safety record and that is why our reform program was developed.
It is vital to remember that Australia has an excellent air safety record by any international comparison.
Our safety record in passenger transport is comparable with the best in the world and our general aviation accident rate reduced by about six percent a year over the last ten years.
Of course, it is sensible to remember that while we would all like a zero accident rate that is simply impossible to achieve.
Air transport, like any other form of transportation, will have accidents from time-to-time.
It is the responsibility of the aviation industry and the safety regulator to minimise the risk of these accidents and to learn from past mistakes – human, systemic or mechanical.
I think it is fair to say that the Australian aviation industry and its regulator – CASA – have been very good at risk management and learning and that is why our accident rate is so low.
The creation of the Office of Airspace Regulation will be an important part of this continued improvement to CASA and will round out our regulatory responsibilities.
I am confident CASA can bring a fresh and highly professional approach to airspace regulation, with a focus on risk management and safety outcomes.
CASA will deliver even better air safety regulation for Australia in airspace and all other aspects of aviation as we push hard to continually improve.
Bruce Byron AM
Chief Executive Officer
31 January 2007