Industry bodies unite in call for action

At least eight peak aviation industry bodies are now presenting a united front in demanding government action over the ever-worsening interface between industry and regulator.

In meetings in Sydney on November 13, the Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF) developed a multi-faceted critique headed, “Now is the time for Government to act,” which focused on the key issue it defined as “the lack of drive and commitment to act urgently on aviation – even judged by the government’s own promises.”

The Forum noted; “in considering the government’s performance against their 12 key aviation election commitments, TAAAF scored the government as having delivered around 40% of their commitments.”

TAAAF comprises industry groups that represent virtually all non-airline aviation sectors and include the Aviation Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul Business Association, the Aerial Agriculture Association of Australia, the Australian Association of Flying Instructors, the Australian Business Aviation Association, the Australian Helicopter Industry Association, the Recreational Aviation Association, the Australian Federation of Aero Clubs, and the Regional Aviation Association of Australia.

While the Forum’s expressed concerns at the lack of a government response to the Aviation Safety Regulation Review were central to the communiqué, it also homed in on several related issues including government tardiness in the process of nominating CASA’s new board members and CEO, the multiple failures of the new rule-sets to meet the regulatory reform program’s (RRP) founding principles, CASA’s non-transparent internal processes, and the flawed regulations that continue to flow from the regulator’s 20-year-old RRP process, says the communiqué:

“In particular, the Forum expressed concern at the lack of a government response to the Aviation Safety Regulation Review [ASRR]. The Review was seen as a blueprint for the reform of CASA to make it an effective, efficient, fair and trusted regulator.

“[The Forum] called on the Minister to respond urgently to the Forsyth review, to finalise board appointments to ensure the CASA CEO is supported by a strong board reflective of the interests of the industry, and to issue CASA with a new letter of strategic direction under the Civil Aviation Act.

“The appointment of Jeff Boyd to the CASA board was warmly welcomed but it is of ongoing concern that the CASA board still has three vacancies, which is seen as holding back the reform of CASA.”

The Forum also welcomed the recent appointment of new CASA CEO Mark Skidmore, but clearly iwarned that it believed “significant challenges lay ahead in the reform of CASA and in bringing about badly needed improvements as highlighted in the independent ‘Forsyth Report.’”

The communiqué strongly supported the ASRR’s recommendation for the return of a three tier regulatory system to facilitate the drafting of simple operational rules. It rejected the CASA’s move away from its founding principles and towards the use of non-regulatory measures such as advisory material, policy documents, exemptions, manuals and forms as compliance requirements for operators and pilots. It also strongly supported the introduction of key quality assurance mechanisms within CASA, including a ‘merit decision appeal process’; again identified in the Forsyth report.

In the face of a growing mountain of unworkable new regulations, the Forum also called on the government to “establish immediately a moratorium on CASA regulatory development work until the new CEO is fully operational, the CASA board is appointed, and the government has made a clear response to the Forsyth report:

“In particular, CASRs Part 61 should immediately be suspended to prevent further damage to the industry and a joint industry/CASA task force appointed to apply the principles of sound regulatory development:

“CASR Part 61 was seen as a serious problem and not acceptable to the industry in its current form. It was identified as a threat to the viability of some sectors and significant numbers of operators. Additionally there is clearly confusion within the regulator about the implementation of the rule-set and a lack of consistent interpretation and education.”

Part 61 (Flight Crew Licensing, 75,000 words), creates 47 new offences, 22 of which are of strict liability, and all of which attract the maximum allowable penalty of 50 penalty units. It is littered with instances that support industry concerns, reports a senior industry ATO (approved testing officer) with a lifelong background of general aviation and airline flying with training and checking responsibilities, in Australia and internationally:

“The baseline assumption they always promoted, said firstly that whatever you were doing before, you’ll still be able to do it. And secondly, that there would be a three year transition period to allow the industry to adapt to new arrangements. I’ve now been told that although it was intended that training and checking people who were already qualified would be re-titled ‘examiners,’ they are now being told that if they don’t have an instructor rating they’ll have to start again and get one. I’m also told that this means that highly experienced people who have been training and checking in airline environments all their life are now being considered non-acceptable and it’s being put to operators that they should employ flying school instructors to gain type ratings and supply training and checking services on contract.

“The problem is that nobody has any idea of what we’ve got to do to comply with the new part 61 – literally nobody! That includes all the flying operations inspectors in CASA I’ve asked, who don’t even agree with one another!

ProAviation will be publishing a more detailed analysis on the expectable industry impacts of Parts 61 and 135 as the situation unfolds.

Author’s Note: The following paragraph represents a correction to some miss-typing

Part 135 (Australian air transport operations – small aeroplanes) – 154 pages not including the Manual of Standards, creates 210 new offences, 109 of which are of strict liability, with every one attracting the maximum allowable punishment of 50 units. It is littered with instances that support industry concerns, reports a senior industry approved testing officer (ATO) who has a lifelong background of general aviation and airline flying with training and checking responsibilities, in Australia and internationally:

Unkept promises of “seamless change”

“If and when it sees the light of day at all, part 135 is set to be even more controversial than Part 61, and in its present form would clearly spell the end of some aviation sectors.”

CASA has yet to announce the target dates to launch Part 135, but we note that the most recent ‘consultation draft’ is no longer available on the CASA website, and some in industry optimistically believe that CASA may actually be backing away from launching it in its present form.

“The baseline assumption they always promoted, said firstly that whatever you were doing before, you’ll still be able to do it. And secondly, that there would be a three year transition period to allow the industry to adapt to new arrangements. I’ve now been told that although it was intended that training and checking people who were already qualified would be re-titled examiners, they are now being told that if they don’t have an instructor rating they’ll have to start again and get one. I’m also told that this means that highly experienced people who have been training and checking in airline environments all their life are now being considered non-acceptable and it’s being put to operators that they should employ flying school instructors to gain type ratings and supply training and checking services on contract.

“The problem is that nobody has any idea of what we’ve got to do to comply with the new part 61 – literally nobody! That includes all the flying operations inspectors in CASA I’ve asked, who don’t even agree with one another!

Footnote:

With apologies in advance to non-technical readers, we suggest that pilots, AOC holders MRO workers and businesses would do well to contemplate carefully the likely resulting changes to the way they do business if the following advices (cut and pasted from CASA’s website) are fully implemented. We’ve tidied up the English a little, but may have missed a blooper or two. There are also some assertions that tend to downplay or sidestep significant potential cost and manageability impacts:

Part 135 Significant changes

  • aeroplanes will be required to be operated in accordance with a Minimum Equipment List (MEL).
  • Aerodromes standards – For aeroplanes less than 5700 kgs, Part 135 requires runway widths as per the Part 139 MOS Chapter 13/other legislative instrument, unless some narrower width is allowed under the operator’s approved exposition (It should be noted that floatplane ‘aerodromes’ standards are still to be written).
  • The ability to use single engine aeroplanes approved under Part 90 for IFR and NVFR operations (Airworthiness Advisory Circular 1-116 requirements are to be incorporated into CASR Part 90 for the aeroplane approval process. Operational procedures must be included in the operator’s exposition.) CASA also proposes to manage the very few turbine powered aeroplane below 5700 kg that can currently carry more than nine (9) passengers but cannot meet the current CAO 20.7.1B through an engine monitoring program under CASR Part 90.
  • The new ICAO fuel-standards for Part 135 fuel planning and fuel use rules have been incorporated, including requirements for operators to monitor the soundness of their fuel policy.
  • The introduction of ICAO take-off alternate requirements where a return to the departure aerodrome is not possible due to weather. An alternate will also be required when planning flights to a ‘relevant external aerodrome’ as defined in Part 135 (Lord Howe, Norfolk, Christmas and Cocos Islands).
  • Inclusion of the ICAO approach-ban criteria.
  • Performance criteria for very light jets and aircraft above 5700 kg are referenced under Part 121. This is to avoid duplication and it is consistent with current CAO 20.7.1B.
  • Additional rules requiring operators to outline specific procedures for determining IFR take-off minima in relation to the performance of the aeroplane used at the time.
  • A new requirement for weather radar to be fitted to aeroplanes with more than 5 passenger seats conducting IFR operations. The commencement date of this requirement will be determined after consideration of any technological developments in weather reporting systems that may be suitable as an alternative to radar systems.
  • Auto-pilot requirements for single pilot operations in passenger air transport operations with relief for cargo only operations in certain aeroplanes before 30 June 2015.
  • Emergency locator beacons required to be fitted for all flights, however for flights up to 50 nautical miles the beacon can be portable.
  • TAWS B fitment for passenger-carrying IFR operations on aeroplanes configured with more than 5 passenger seats. The commencement date of this requirement will take account of the commencement date of GNSS requirement for IFR aircraft, in order to take advantage of expected technology advancements that will reduce costs of incorporating TAWS functions.
  • Additional criteria for flights over water, including requirements for the wearing of life jackets and the carriage of life rafts when flying beyond gliding distance from a safe forced landing area.
  • The introduction of a portable, emergency proficiency training qualification for pilots for over water operations.
  • Operator and flight crew member’s training, checking and recency requirements based on an operational complexity model. Pilots flying multi-engine aeroplane requires two (2) proficiency checks annually but VFR single en gine pilots will require one (1) only.
  • The ability for operators to use a `certified Part 142 organisation for their training and checking activities provided they do so to the requirements of the Part 135 AOC holder’s Standard Operating Procedures.

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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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