Who’s getting it right?

Here’s a sample comparison between the Australian, USA and New Zealand regulatory styles.

The example used here is just one of thousands of regulations. As an example of how much more is yet to be done, two recently-released rule sets have been followed by a cascade of amendments, and the “Manuals of Standards” are dragging months, if not years behind, leaving the industry with a totally confusing void in its ability to make decisions, many of them safety-related, on investment, employment, management systems, administration and training.

Australia – 351 words

USA94 words

New Zealand96 words

91.060 Responsibility and authority of pilot in command

(1) The operator of an aircraft must ensure that the following information is available to the pilot in command of the aircraft to enable the pilot in command to comply with subregulation (5):

(a) the aircraft flight manual instructions for the aircraft;

(b) the airworthiness conditions (if any) for the aircraft;

(c) if the operator is required by these Regulations to have an operations manual — the operations manual;

(d) if the operator is required by these Regulations to have a dangerous goods manual — the dangerous goods manual.

Penalty: 50 penalty units.

(2) The pilot in command of an aircraft is responsible for the safety of the occupants of the aircraft, and any cargo on board, from the time the aircraft’s doors are closed before take-off until the time its doors are opened after landing.

(3) The pilot in command of an aircraft is responsible for the start, continuation, diversion (if any) and end of a flight by the aircraft, and for the operation and safety of the aircraft, from the moment the aircraft is ready to move until the moment it comes to rest at the end of the flight and its engine or engines are shut down.

(4) The pilot in command of an aircraft has final authority over:

(a) the aircraft while he or she is in command of it; and

(b) the maintenance of discipline by all persons on board the aircraft.

(5) The pilot in command of an aircraft must discharge his or her responsibilities under subregulations (2) and (3) in compliance with the following:

(a) the aircraft flight manual instructions for the aircraft;

(b) the airworthiness conditions (if any) for the aircraft;

(c) the operations manual (if any) as it applies to the pilot in command;

(d) the dangerous goods manual (if any) as it applies to the pilot in command.

Penalty: 50 penalty units.

Note These Regulations also contain other requirements and offences that apply to the pilot in command of an aircraft.

(6) An offence against subregulation (1) or (5) is an offence of strict liability.

§91.3 Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.

(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

(b) In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.

(c) Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.

 

91.203 Authority of the pilot-in-command

Each pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall give any commands necessary for the safety of the aircraft and of persons and property carried on the aircraft, including disembarking or refusing the carriage of—

(1) any person who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or any drug where, in the opinion of the pilot-in-command, their carriage is likely to endanger the aircraft or its occupants; and

(2) any person, or any part of the cargo, which, in the opinion of the pilot-in-command, is likely to endanger the aircraft or its occupants.

Author’s note

The Australian version, with exactly the same heading as the FAA uses, doesn’t even address the subject matter suggested by the heading. It devotes the first 91 words (highlighted in blue typeface) to detailing some of the responsibilities of the operator – not the pilot in command. It then goes on to detail some (but not all) of the documents which CASA requires to be made available to the pilot in command during flight. These items are generally referred to as “shelfware”; a GA pilot’s description of in-flight documents that have no particular usefulness in flight. Their principal purposes appear to be increasing the aircraft’s operating empty weight, cluttering the cockpit floor and its limited storage spaces, and obstructing escape routes in an emergency while also adding fuel to any resulting fire. Pilots are also warned that because of a common CASA practice of specifying the content and wording of operations manuals, the aircraft flight manual doesn’t always agree with the operations manual, and the AFM should be considered the overriding authority where there is a discrepancy. The preferred time to debate this is not when one is flying an aircraft.

The allocation of 50 penalty points for not having this library aboard is confusing as to who is committing the crime, because the heading of the paragraph conflicts with the duties attributed to the operator rather than the pilot.

The Australian version then goes on to detail a few (but again far from all) of the many responsibilities of a pilot in command, by referring him (or her of course) to the shelfware that has already been listed once.

From this example it is clear that far from putting the “finishing touches” on Part 91, the serious work of developing intelligible and effective legislation hasn’t even started yet.

The US version says in 23 words, considerably more than CASR 91.060 does in its entirety, as well as adding a paragraph that intelligently permits pilots to deviate from the rules as necessary in an emergency, and a requirement to report the event if requested.

Like the USA, the NZ regulations empower the pilot in command to make necessary decisions, the only special reference being specific authority to deny boarding to drunks and dopers.

Literally hundreds of duties and responsibilities are rightfully assigned to the pilot in command, and they are spelt out in the appropriate sections of any competently-written rule set. They are and should not be used as padding to project a false impression of regulatory diligence.

The new regulations are rich in similar examples. Watch this space.

 

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About Paul Phelan

Paul Phelan flew for over 50 years in private, charter, corporate and regional aviation, worked in senior management roles with a major regional airline, and retains his license. In parallel he has been writing for Australian and international aviation journals for well over 20 years on all aspects of aviation including aircraft evaluation, flying, industry affairs, infrastructure, manufacture, regulatory affairs, safety, technologies and training. He has won three separate National Aviation Press Club awards for "best technical aviation story of the year."

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