Review panel report on schedule

The government’s Aviation Safety Regulation Review is all but complete with ASRR chair David Forsyth confident that his panel’s final report will be in the hands of Minister Warren Truss by its end-of-month target date.

Since the review began last December the Panel evaluated over 260 submissions and received input from hundreds of aviation stakeholders. The final draft is being edited and there are a couple of parts of the report still being checked, said Mr. Forsyth:

“I have to say it’s been absolutely fascinating, and a privilege to have spoken to so many people across the aviation industry. There are a lot of people who are concerned about the current situation, and we hope we have captured the key issues for industry. There has been a lot of material which reflects concerns that have been there for many years, but there are also a number of issues that have become worse in recent times.

“But I believe the problems can be fixed and am confident we have made recommendations which will help to ensure it will be fixed. I don’t think it’s an impossible task; it just takes somebody with some (courage) and a lot of effort. That’s what we believe anyway, but of course we are not the people who have to do it.”

The ASRR panel’s review has met the Coalition’s pre-election promise to “establish a high level external review of aviation safety and regulation in Australia,” and implementation of its other promises, if not unduly delayed, will go a long way towards satisfying the industry’s desperate needs. Those promises, which went to the heart of many of the industry’s major concerns, were:

  • abolish the carbon tax and its insidious impact on aviation fuels and aviation businesses;
  • establish a formal Aviation Industry Consultative Council to meet regularly with the Minister;
  • ensure that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is adequately resourced;
  • reform the structure of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority;
  • focus on the better utilisation of Australian airspace;
  • support regional aviation by introducing a new and better targeted En Route Rebate Scheme;
  • recognise the importance of Australian airports to the economy;
  • revitalise the General Aviation Action Agenda;
  • continue to promote aviation liberalisation;
  • enhance aviation skills, training and development; and
  • ensure that aviation security measures are risk based.

Submissions to the review included numerous recommendations for review and revision of the Civil Aviation Act and regulations, the restoration of meaningful ongoing industry consultation, and comprehensive reform of the way the national aviation agency carries out its statutory functions.

For some casualties of former regulatory policy and practice, the return to normal services and workable industry relations will come too late. When the final ASRR report is presented, the ball will be firmly in the court of the Minister and the government to deliver swift, effective and unchallenged implementation of vital reforms – whatever it takes.

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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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