CASA hiring transparency lost in obfuscation

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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Senator Fawcett welcomes CASA Board appointment

Senator David Fawcett today welcomed the appointment of Mr Jeff Boyd to the Board of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) as Deputy Chairman.

Senator Fawcett

Senator Fawcett

“Mr Boyd has extensive experience in the aviation industry having been an owner of a regional airline, a flight training school, and an aviation maintenance company,” Senator Fawcett said.

“He is currently head of Kite Aviation, a consultancy company for the aviation industry, and is also director of the Regional Aviation Association of Australia.”

Mr Boyd’s appointment comes in response to the ‘Forsyth Report’ which criticised the CASA Board for its lack of sufficient members with aviation industry experience.

“Mr Boyd is a very worthy appointee to the CASA Board and will provide valuable guidance as the Board implements the recommendations coming from the Forsyth Report,” Senator Fawcett said.

“The Abbott government is currently examining all recommendations of the Forsyth Report but is committed to increasing the number of CASA Board members with aviation experience.”

“The Forsyth Report will result in a more efficient, effective and safer future for the Australian aviation industry,” Senator Fawcett said.

Senator Fawcett is regarded by industry as our most aviation-aware parliamentarian.

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What next for regulatory reform? – Opinion

The Aviation Safety Regulation Reform (ASRR) Panel delivered its report and recommendations on time at the end of some four months of exhaustive and far-reaching consultation with all aviation sectors. The Minister presented the Panel’s work for public review promptly, providing another 30 days for further comment, which expired on Monday, June 30.

What happens next, and in what sequence, is much less clear.

Plainly even if every one of the ASRR Panel’s 37 recommendations were to be adopted without amendment, (an obviously unlikely scenario), the recommendations would still need to be transformed into a plan of action that covers the enormous range of regulatory matters that were addressed in the ASRR process. These include hundreds of items of change, many of them interactive, and most probably calling for change in the administrative, airworthiness, enforcement, flight operations, legal, licensing, medical, recruitment/training, and other areas – all to tight timetables to keep the ball rolling.

Of all the industry disquiet expressed in submissions to the Panel, by far the most frequent and prominent has been the breakdown of the mutual trust and respect that once existed between the regulator and industry.

This situation, unmentioned in previous studies and reports, is observed and discussed with examples in almost all the published submissions, and is further highlighted by the 31% of submitters who requested confidentiality.

It becomes obvious therefore that there are people within the national aviation authority as it stands who are un-equipped and unwilling to be part of essential restructure, and that the whole task will have to be assigned to a newly-formed team, under a newly-appointed director reporting to a newly formed board.

The critical trust deficiency was mentioned only once in the ASRR’s recommendations at item 14, but was expanded on at several points in the Panel’s summary of its deliberations. The recommendation is:

14.   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.

ProAviation suggests that if this recommendation were effectively implemented, the identified problems would begin to disappear almost immediately, albeit it with a golden handshake in some undeserving cases.

It is notable that the wording of the recommendation directly links changes in CASA’s “regulatory philosophy” with the re-building of “an effective collaborative relationship on a foundation of mutual understanding and respect.” Given that the collapse of those values is at the root of virtually all the problems the Panel identified, the corollary is that if CASA does not change its regulatory philosophy, there can be no prospect of rebuilding trust and understanding.

And there could therefore be no prospect of reform. Simple as that!

It needs also to be noted that although the Panel wisely chose not to put forward prescriptive solutions, its general analysis offered ample guidance on the nature and scale of the problems that the incoming board and CEO need to fix. The following extracts are just examples from the Panel’s deliberations that raise the issue of trust and discuss credible remedies:

  • Due to the present adversarial relationship between industry and CASA, Australia lacks the degree of trust required to achieve this important aim [collaborative relationships]. Sharing safety data is a fundamental principle of good safety management.”
  • “The Panel concludes that CASA and industry need to build an effective collaborative relationship on a foundation of mutual trust and respect. Therefore, CASA needs to set  a new strategic direction.”
  • “Public sector organisationsasked act in a way that maintains the trust placed in the organisation by the government  and in such a way that the public interest is maintained or improved over time.”
  • While CASA appears to be trusted by many in government,the industry’s trust in CASA is failing, compromising CASA’s Stewardship,and industry perceives Casas Accountability as being compromised.” [ASRR's highlighting]
  • Concerns over data flows will continue to be an issue whenever there is a breakdown of trust between industry and CASA.”
  • “Although the rationale for ‘firmness’in regulatory oversight is understood, and clearly has a place, the industry’s assessment is that CASA takes an overly aggressive position, which is having an overriding and consuming influence over the aviation community and damaging trust.

Of course reform is still several giant steps away, because it can only work when the new regulator’s new board and new management all accept that there exist obstructions that will take a cathartic change of corporate mindset to remove. The retraining or removal of the obstructionists will also be vital and should not be underestimated, because the philosophies that created the present system are still extant.

However the potential rewards speak for themselves. For a start, the 20 year farce of faux regulatory reform should be replaced by a rule set that delivers what was claimed for the original RRP project. That would be accompanied by genuine and effective industry consultation along lines recommended by the Panel, realistic consultation timelines, and (hopefully) the input and guidance of a suitably qualified body such as the Australian Law Reform Commission, whose objective (stated on its website) is to Make recommendations for law reform that:

  • “bring the law into line with current conditions and needs;
  • “remove defects in the law;
  • “simplify the law;
  • “adopt new law more effective methods for administering the law and dispensing justice, and
  • “provide improved access to Justice.

“When conducting an enquiry, the ALRC also monitors overseas legal systems to ensure Australia compares favourably with international best practice.”

Those objectives seemed to be tailor-made for Australia’s current aviation regulatory system.

At an early point, as when any major conflict seems to be drawing to a close, it may be necessary to declare a form of “ceasefire” to ensure that the processes of reform are not further clouded by hyperactive over-regulation on the part of individuals or groups. We have in fact already heard reports of harassment that seem to suggest the reopening of old and far from fully healed wounds, and some recent “initiatives” in the medical and airworthiness areas also appear to suggest a scorched earth philosophy. Surely any new regulatory interpretations or enforcement activity should receive close scrutiny for non-compliance with published procedures, due diligence, procedural fairness and the rule of law.

An early priority must be LAME and pilot licensing issues, which will be familiar to anyone who has been following the ASRR dialogue. These reach into the career prospects of both groups, and must be unravelled and resolved.

Also there’s considerable disparity between contributors to the ASRR on key specific issues, much of which is not fully resolved by the Panel’s recommendations, and needs early resolution. A good example (but far from the only one) is the question of whether two-tier or three-tier regulation represents the more effective model, and there are credible and well-regarded supporters for both scenarios.

At best, the new board and executive would have as a starting point at least two navigation aids:

First, their own copy of the ASRR Panel’s report and access to all the submissions to the ASRR, will help identify and understand most of the problems they are responsible for solving along with many of the solutions. This is important because it is probable that implementation of many of the Panels recommendations are likely to require amendments to the Civil Aviation Act;

Second, Bruce Byron’s two directives: 16/2004 – Development of Regulations and the Regulatory Framework, and 17/2004 – Regulatory Advisory Panels – set out an optimal prescription for getting the regulatory review process back on track. However the two directives were later replaced by Directive 1 of 2007 which consolidated them while also requiring risk justification of all regulations and benefit justifications of all regulations.

With the departure of the present CEO imminent, surely it would be timely now for the Minister to name without further delay the new CASA board and also the new CEO, who will face a daunting challenge on Monday September 1.

Meanwhile, it’s an educational experience, as well as being a guide to the challenges faced by an incoming administration, to re-read CASA’s own reporting of announcements by (then) responsible Minister John Anderson on the new way forward in 2002 as the Minister saw it.

 Article from Flight Safety Australia November-December 2002

Far Reaching reforms to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) announced on 18 November will strengthen its accountability, improve consultation with industry and temper its ability to act as “judge, jury and executioner,” while maintaining its powers to take appropriate safety action.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said aviation safety and compliance will be improved in the capital cities and regional areas under the reforms.

The reforms, proposed to come into effect from 1 July 2003, include:

  • The CASA Board will be abolished and the Director of Aviation Safety will be designated as the Chief Executive Officer.
  • The Minister will be given powers to set policy directions and performance standards for CASA, but will remain at arm’s length from day to day safety regulatory decisions.
  • The Minister will also be given powers to establish consultation mechanisms for industry and stakeholders.
  • Measures will be introduced to reform CASA’s enforcement processes, including granting a stay of suspension and cancellation decisions not involving an immediate risk to air safety, and the introduction of a demerit points system for minor breaches of the regulations.
  • An air standards advisory body will be formally established to complete the reform of the aviation safety regulations.

“The review of the structure and reporting arrangements for CASA was a key element of the aviation reform agenda that we announced in February this year,” Mr Anderson said.

“I am pleased the Government has agreed to a series of bold measures ensuring CASA remains a robust, independent safety regulator but at the same time sees its accountability to Government and standing with industry strengthened.

“Under the new enforcement regime, CASA will retain the power to ground an operator where there is an imminent risk to safety but it will be required to have its decision confirmed by the Federal Court after five days.

Where a decision is taken to vary, suspend or cancel an aviation approval and a review is sought, an automatic stay of the decision will be granted.

“This will mean that no operator will be put out of business as they wait for a court or tribunal to determine whether CASA acted appropriately. At the same time, aviation safety standards will be maintained by giving CASA the express power to immediately suspend an aviation permission, such as an Air Operators’ Certificate, where there is an imminent safety risk.

“The formal establishment of an air standards advisory body will build on the outstanding work that Mr Bruce Byron has done in making sure that the views of the industry are taken into account when new aviation safety regulations are made. This body will play an integral part in the completion of the regulatory reform program, providing a strong and effective line of communication between CASA and the aviation industry. “Australia has an enviable record when it comes to aviation safety and this is due, in part, to a culture that recognises the need for safety awareness. “These reforms will only improve and strengthen CASA’s ability to regulate our skies effectively and boost the travelling public’s faith in our aviation industry.” Mr Anderson extended his gratitude to CASA’s Chairman, Ted Anson, for completing the CASA review, and also to the other board members for the service they have given.

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AIPA enters the colour vision debate

The Australian & International Pilots Association has written directly to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss over CASA’s handling of the Debate over colour vision deficiency CVD affected pilots.

Formed in 1981, AIPA represents about 2, 250 Qantas group pilots, making it Australia’s largest pilot representative group.

AIPA President Nathan Safe explained to the Minister that his Association felt a direct approach was necessary because CASA director John McCormick had shown a determination to persist with a strategy to unwind Australia’s advances in managing the issue with a policy that has been vindicated by many years and thousands of hours of safe flight by pilots with CVD.

“However, CASA has now embarked on a set of tactics to unwind that position,” said Mr Safe.

Mr McCormick had signalled the shift in CASA’s position on May 26 when he told the Senate Estimates Committee:

“The overriding principle here, whether it is colour vision deficiency, hearing deficiency or any sort of impairment on the pilot, is safety. We are talking about going towards an ATPL (air transport pilot license), when there is no standard of which we are aware for issuing an ATPL anywhere in the world, for what would be the benefit of a number of pilots – I think we are talking about a few hundred pilots in total. I agree they should be able to do the best they can in their career but our responsibility is to maintain the safety of the Australian travelling public. When we get to the point where we are pushing the boundaries, where we are pushing the science, looking for other ways to get around what could possibility be indicated from the clinical side is a dangerous thing to do, we are starting to impact on my ability to discharge my duties under section 9 of the Civil Aviation Act, and that is to provide safety as outlined in that act the.

“If we wish to go there, then we have to go there in a measured manner. We will not go there on one basic flight test. I am sorry, but we will research this as much as necessary and, with all due respect, I will not be issuing an ATPL to a person who has failed the test as outlined in [Civil Aviation Safety Regulation] 67.”

Mr McCormick made no reference at the committee hearing to the comprehensive 30-Day 1989 AAT test case which had been the basis of the regulator’s policy for 25 years until CASA’s recent reopening of the CVD debate.

Just ten days later, CASA’s ‘Permissions Centre’ manager wrote to AOC holders and separately to affected pilots, signalling its intention to review what AIPA describes as “one of the most enlightened policy positions in world aviation in regard to permitting pilots to fly in commercial service despite having an identified Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD).”

“In many ways, this cynical attempt by the senior executives of CASA to attack the long-standing CVD policy position of Australia, in concert with their intention to use the AAT to wind that policy back, has dulled some of the glimmer of hope that the industry attributed to your Aviation Safety Regulatory Review (ASRR).

“Given the path that CASA seems determined to follow in regard to CVD pilots, AIPA strongly recommends that you accept the evidence of many years of safe operations by CVD pilots in Australia that this is not a safety issue and that you consequently intervene to direct a more sensible and less expensive approach to whatever procedural issue that is motivating CASA to further alienate much of the Australian aviation industry.”

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Fifty shades of red and green – Opinion

What on earth is the problem that Dr Navathe and CASA are expending so much energy trying to solve? It certainly has the close attention of hundreds of Australian pilots as yet another of their number, John O’Brien, prepares to confront CASA’s massive publicly funded legal firepower in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in a hearing set down for July 21. The case is scheduled to run for two weeks, and sources close to the matter believe CASA has about a dozen expert witnesses (mostly optometrists) from all over the world and, we’ve been told, has engaged Ian Harvey QC, to parade them before the AAT to convince the Tribunal that aeroplanes will start plummeting out of the sky because some of their pilots, in common with around 8% of the world’s male population, have some degree of colour vision deficiency (CVD). CASA lawyer Joseph Rule told a recent Senate Estimates hearing that CASA’s costs for this extravaganza had already reached about $43,000, and when pushed a bit more by Senator Fawcett he also admitted to that “It would not be out of the realms of possibility to accumulate another $40,000 in costs.” Is there $83,000 worth of demonstrably enhanced safety in there somewhere? Other (usually reliable) sources reckon CASA’s ultimate total costs of running the O’Brien case could stack up to somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000 – not counting John O’Brien’s costs of course, and they’re wondering out loud whether all those dollars might not be better spent scouring global accident history for events that have any statistical link at all with CVD. Aha! It seems there’s a new development that can maybe shine a little more light into those dark corners. One of Dr Navathe’s colleagues, Mr Peter Fereday at the CASA “Permissions Centre”, wrote to all AOC holders on June 05 that:

Recent medical research indicates that the safety-related implications of an individual’s CVD may be more significant than they were initially considered to be.

And the following day in a similar letter he told all CVD-affected pilots about the same “recent medical research.” Our curiosity aroused, we asked CASA’s redoubtable spokesperson Peter Gibson…….

Could CASA please direct me to the references to the original medical research papers that present the evidence referred to in the first and third paragraphs of the attached letter? [That’s Mr Fereday’s letter to AOC holders about CVD.]

…… and after only six days of probing, good old reliable PG bounced right back:

  • The recent medical research mentioned by CASA in its letter to AOC holders of 5 June 2014 refers to the research described in an article by Dougal B Watson, principal medical officer of the New Zealand CAA [and Dr Navathe’s former boss in NZ], appearing in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine.
  • In May 2014, an article appeared in the magazine Aerosafety World, published by the Flight Safety Foundation, summarising Dr Watson’s research on inconsistencies in the assessment of pilots with CVD.

Enlightenment at last? Afraid not. It transpires that the article is only available to super-rich people who can afford to commit US$30 (and their credit card details) to a little-known offshore organisation, especially before checking product quality. However as we were coming to grips with this formidable challenge to astute journalism, a copy of Dr Watson’s treatise fell off the back of a passing truck, and we were back in business. Or so we thought. But a careful perusal of the document, tantalisingly titled Lack of lnternational Uniformity in Assessing Color [sic] Vision Deficiency in Professional Pilots, quickly convinced us we must have the wrong bit of paper. A note attached to the article off the truck had warned:

Take a gander at this rubbish. This [Dr Watson’s treatise] is not evidence of anything of any consequence in this entire debate. Indeed, it is evidence of what a mess the aviation colour perception standard is in worldwide. Imagine relying on this as legal evidence to impress a judge just how dangerous colour vision defective pilots are!

A bit harsh? Well not really. If I were Mr Fereday (or Peter Gibson) I’d be quietly seeking a second opinion before I passed on anything originating from the source of those assertions. Let’s remind ourselves: Recent medical research indicates that the safety-related implications of an individual’s CVD may be more significant than they were initially considered to be.” Can CASA point out any recent research presented in the Watson article that indicates anything of the sort? As anybody familiar with the debate would observe, the Watson prose is packed with subjective assertions, mind-numbing statistics, tables and flow charts that are in no way relevant to the “safety-related implications of an individual’s CVD”. In fact they don’t depict any safety-relevant medical research, and are in bad English, exacerbated by American spelling. The reason Watson doesn’t refer to relevant accident statistics (because there aren’t any) and his article comes up with just two not quite earth-shattering assertions that actually admit in its two listed findings:

“The main conclusions from this research are that:

  • There is a high degree of variation between States in the detection and medical assessment of CVD applicants; and
  • The observed variation stems not from the wording of the medical standards of the States, but from the application of those standards.

So 190 separate states have all figured out different but similar satisfactory ways of managing the same issue, right? Furthermore Dr Watson’s research actually refers to:

  • the paucity of documented aircraft accidents or incidents where CVD is implicated as a contributory factor.” [Because there are none]. And states that:
  • It is beyond the scope of this report to analyze [analyse] the issues and the debates concerning CV standards and civil aviation”.

So! Dud information has been unintentionally passed back to us via CASA PR? We haven’t yet seen any AOC-holder response to Mr Fereday’s June 5 letter, but its next-day follow-up to pilots has already caused at least one pilot body to reach for its keyboard and mouse. The Australian Federation of Air Pilots has directed a sharp response from its President Capt Bryan Murray to current CASA CEO John McCormick:

Dear Mr McCormick,

Re: Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD)

I am writing on behalf of the AFAP to express our concern over the letter dated 5 June 2014 from Peter Fereday to AOC holders regarding Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD).

The AFAP believes it is unreasonable and inappropriate that CASA is asking companies or the affected pilots to make assessments about their ability to hold a medical certificate. CASA issued the medical certificates in question and the affected pilots have been operating under these certificates in good faith.

AOC holders and the pilots themselves are not privy to the “recent medical research” to which CASA refers in its letter nor are they medically qualified to make the assessment requested. If CASA wish to change the regulations regarding colour vision then CASA should follow the correct and established processes. CASA’s letter of 5 June 2014 is in our view an abuse of process.

We request that CASA formally retract the letter of 5 June 2014.

Please also be aware that we will be supporting any of our members who are unfairly discriminated against as a result of CASA’s letter.

Meanwhile nowhere has CASA attempted to express in cost benefit terms, the safety benefits its proposed actions would deliver. So what is the problem to which all that public expense is supposed to be the answer? Where’s the history? Where are all the accidents that are linked to CVD pilots? Although there isn’t any such history, there’s plenty that covers related legal activity. In October 1987 the AAT reviewed a negative decision by the (then) Civil Aviation Authority that had been made in respect of Dr Arthur Pape, a licensed pilot, medical practitioner and DAME, and recognised as a world expert on colour deficiency in aviation. However the AAT decision was only in respect of Dr Pape’s private pilot licence, and imposed restrictions related to aircraft equipment, night flying, maximum takeoff weight and cruising speed, but and weather conditions. 18 months later in April 1989 the Tribunal heard another application by a CVD pilot, this one from commercial pilot Hugh Denison, a young colour defective pilot who had qualified for night flight in New Zealand, but who was prohibited by the CAA from night flight in Australia. To quote Dr Pape, whose interest in these issues has never wavered:

“Again, the appeal succeeded and the ban on night flight was overturned for all colour defective pilots in Australia. To this date, the Denison appeal is still the most comprehensive examination of aviation colour vision standards that has ever been conducted in the entire world. The hearings lasted for over 30 days and called witnesses including experienced pilots and air traffic controllers, optometrists and visual perception psychologists to name just a few. As a direct result of the appeal’s success, many such pilots found doors opening to career opportunities that were previously denied to them”.

This AAT hearing resulted in an order that:

The decision under review is set aside and, in substitution for it, it is decided that the applicant is to be granted, under regulation 63 of the Civil Aviation Regulations, a commercial pilot licence to fly fixed wing aircraft and rotary wing aircraft, the said licence to be subject to only the following two conditions:-

(1)That he is not permitted to pilot an aircraft in international air navigation except with the permission of the appropriate authority of the country concerned;

(2) That he is not permitted to pilot aircraft within control zones unless the aircraft being flown is fitted with radio apparatus such that he can maintain two-way communication on appropriate frequencies.

In a detailed analysis of its decision, the Tribunal explained that it was running a “test case” and it also explained why: “We understand that there are a considerable number of other pilots with defective colour vision who have requested the granting of licences which do not contain a condition prohibiting their piloting aircraft at night. For that reason the respondent [CASA] indicated that it wished to conduct this case as a test case. “Mr Rose [Appearing for CASA], therefore, informed the Tribunal that the respondent intended to present its case in a manner which would encompass not only the applicant’s situation but also broader issues relating generally to defective colour vision. At the request of the respondent [CASA] the Attorney-General granted legal aid to the applicant to ensure that he was not disadvantaged by the respondent presenting his case in that manner. “The matters which we have to consider in these proceedings have consequently been extended well beyond those which the applicant [Mr Denison] originally sought to raise, that is to say whether his defective colour vision made it unsafe for him personally to pilot an aircraft at night. Costs to the various parties in the Denison case have not been identified, but the AAT discussed in great detail the whole procedure it had adopted, all of the issue-related questions asked and answered, the witnesses, areas in which there was broad agreement, types of CVD, the technologies used in assessing it, and its safety relevance in flight operations at all levels. The decision document also contains detailed analysis of every related issue discussed by witnesses and laid the foundations for about 15 years of relative truce. The ruling was accepted by all parties and has been the basis under which CVD pilots have been operating successfully until CASA resumed hostilities. The last two paragraphs of the AAT decision are relevant to Mr O’Brien’s case:.

78. We recommend that suitable practical tests should be devised so that a protan [Mr O’Brien’s condition] can be tested individually, if he wishes, at his own expense to ascertain the extent of the loss of his ability to perceive the intensity of red lights. If his distant visual acuity is such that, when allowance is made for the loss of ability to perceive the intensity of red lights, he is able to see red lights at the furthest distance that they can be seen by persons who have normal colour vision and the distant acuity required by ANO 47.1.2.13 or ANO 47.1.3.13, as appropriate to the type of licence sought, a licence should be granted to him under regulation 63 subject to only the two conditions referred to above. If a change in his visual acuity is detected thereafter in the course of any routine medical examination, he should be required to undergo the practical test again. Otherwise a licence granted to a protan under regulation 63 should be subject to the additional condition that the pilot does not fly an aircraft at night.

79. Finally, while recognising that the Tribunal has no power to review decisions of the Authority to set medical standards under regulation 62, we suggest that protanomals ought not to be totally prevented, as they are at present, from meeting the colour vision standard. It appears from Dr Samuel’s evidence that some persons with mild protanomaly are able to perceive the existence of red lights at a distance which is as great as, or greater than, the furthest distance at which a person with normal colour vision and distant visual acuity of 6/6 can do so. We suggest that the colour vision standard be altered so as to permit such mild protanomals to take the Farnsworth Lantern test and, if they pass it, to meet the standard and so be qualified, so far as colour vision is concerned, for the grant of an unconditional licence.

Those two paragraphs go to the heart of Mr O’Brien’s situation and that of many others who are now threatened despite thousands of hours of uneventful flight. It is completely untruthful to assert as CASA has, that there is anything in Dr Watson’s paper to suggest that individuals’ CVD pilot issues “may be more significant than they were initially considered to be.” The only thing that has changed on the CVD scene since the AAT delivered its comprehensive analysis, findings and recommendations, has been the accumulation of several million more flying hours by CVD pilots without a CVD related accident. The person or persons responsible for this attempt to wind back the clock needs to be held accountable for their actions. If CASA’s recruiting consultancy identifies a CEO candidate who meets all the key qualities it is seeking in terms of experience, critical competencies for success and other attributes, the newcomer will easily see this campaign for what it is. A return to reality on CVD issues might then be one of the many early outcomes sought by the 269 contributors to the ASRR. An important footnote We would point out that there has in fact been one case where CVD got a mention in an accident investigation; however its CV relevance is widely disputed. On July 26, 2002, a Boeing 727-238F freighter collided with trees on short final and crashed short of the runway at Tallahassee, Florida. The NTSB report said: The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the captain’s and first officer’s failure to establish and maintain a proper glidepath during the night visual approach to landing. “Contributing to the accident was a combination of the captain’s and first officer’s fatigue, the captain’s and first officer’s failure to adhere to company flight procedures, the captain’s and flight engineer’s failure to monitor the approach, and the first officer’s colour vision deficiency.” However the text of the NTSB report contained no supporting discussion of CVD or its role in the accident, and did not explain why both the captain and the flight engineer (who was also a pilot,) reported seeing the same displays on the PAPI as the co-pilot did.

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