Industry representative groups are alarmed at recent events suggesting that the 12 current candidates for the CASA CEO appointment may now be discussed between executive recruiters and CASA Chair Dr. Allan Hawke next week, before a new board can be nominated and briefed to participate in the recruitment decision.
They are worried that the incoming CASA board may be bypassed in the selection of a new Director despite the Aviation Safety Regulation Review (ASRR) Panel’s scathing observations on the breakdown of industry/CASA trust and its recommendation that:
“The Civil Aviation Safety Authority changes its regulatory philosophy and, together with industry, builds an effective collaborative relationship on a foundation of mutual understanding and respect.”
To date only one board appointment, former Brindabella Airlines Managing Director Jeff Boyd as Deputy Chair, has been announced; and CASA is still listing its current board membership as Allan Hawke (Chair), Jeff Boyd, Trevor Danos and (Director) John McCormick.
Phil Hurst, Executive Director of the Agricultural Aviation Association of Australia (AAAA), says: “The process that we support is the one that is been outlined any number of times. It is that there should be a clean sweep of the CASA board. There should then be widespread consultation with industry for the appointments to that board. I understand that Jeff Boyd has already been appointed to the board as Deputy Chairman and we fully support his appointment because he is coming from industry and that’s exactly the sort of appointment that we welcome.
“I think that whoever takes the reins at CASA, they must have the trust of industry. That’s the critical issue and with the best will in the world, it’s very difficult for industry to trust people that have never operated in a commercial environment.
“My concern with the lack of transparency in all this is that anything that happens in the current environment is likely to be tainted. If the powers that be don’t understand the importance of transparency in this process, which will set the direction for CASA for the next however many years, then clearly we’ve got more work to do.”
AAAA and other industry groups are now concerned that the findings and recommendations of the ASRR report are at risk of being swept aside in the CEO recruitment process.
ProAviation has been told that the Dr Hawke wrote to one industry association refuting its submission to the ASRR, and that the organisation rejected what it believed to be “bullying” on his part and brought the matter to Minister Truss’s attention.
Ken Cannane, Executive Director of, AMROBA (aviation Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul Business Association), says his group shares AAAA’s concerns.
“We’ve raised the issue with the Minister of our concerns of the involvement of the current CASA board in the selection of the new people, because we see that the CASA board oversaw the industry and the development of the seriously negative issues that have been raised by the ASRR review. If Mr Hawke is going to be there, the remainder of the board should be involved with the selection as well, not just the Chairman.
“Before selections are made for the CEO, I think the Minister needs to be transparent now and either tell the industry he supports the review and its findings, or that he rejects them. If he supports them, it means that the CASA board should then be selecting a person who can implement the review, not a person who is going to continue on in the direction John McCormick has taken.”
Reflecting the same concerns, the Regional Aviation Association of Australia’s submission had told the ASRR it “believes the bulk of its concerns stem from a poor culture in CASA which itself results from poor senior management and governance over several decades.
“If the Government of the day is not to take a more active role in the formulation of aviation policy generally and, through the relevant Department, a more active role in the management of the aviation bureaucracy, it must be prepared to create a more substantial and active Board to oversight CASA’s management.”
Reflecting sentiments variously expressed by many of the 269 submissions, RAAA listed its four prime concerns as:
- “The unfortunate saga of CASA’s regulatory reform process;
- “CASA’s increasingly adversarial approach to enforcement;
- “CASA’s failure to provide prompt and efficient services to the industry; and
- CASA’s undermining of the “just culture approach to [air safety] data collection.”
RAAA CEO Paul Tyrrell says his Association is now also concerned at the government’s and the Infrastructure Department’s tardiness in publicly accepting the ASRR’s 37 recommendations and transforming them into an action plan under clearly stated and transparent direction:
“The RAAA would welcome the recommendations of the ASRR being implemented as soon as possible. It is essential that the incoming CASA board members play a leading role in the appointment of the new CASA CEO. To do otherwise would make a mockery of the recent review. The new CEO must display a strong cost reflex in that he should exercise stringent control over CASA costs just as all modern aviation businesses must also do if they are to survive.”
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