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An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.

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CASA and Part 61 – again McCormick attacks Aviation industry for “failing to understand”

That the DAS [Director of Aviation Safety], John McCormick goes to this extent to deal with proper critisism, shows the Industry is in fact not being listened to in the pervasive and divisive changes CASA is making to the aviation working environment.

John McCormick made comment in the February 2014 “CASA Briefing”:

 “I am already proud of CASA’s current performance as I do believe we are one of the leading aviation safety regulators in the world, with quality staff, clear procedures and rigorous decimision making processes.”

The industry does not agree with this view.

The AAAA [Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia] does not agree with CASA as the Helicopter Industry Association in August 2014 also disagrees, with Secretary Rob Rich saying:

“Over regulation and more expensive equipment does not always work in enhancing safety; especially when 80% of accidents are blamed on human factors error. As a result, lower level industry managers are looking at their in-trays (and back to the wall clock) and avoiding
the discussion papers on the pending CASR Part 133 – (Australian Air Transport Operations – Rotorcraft) and CASR Part 138 – (Aerial Work Operations – Rotorcraft).

Even the flight crew training package ran to around several thousand pages when the second version of the still not complete CASR Part 61 with a revised Manual of Standards was recently released”

Rob Rich’s full article has been previously reported.

The review [ASRR] by David Forsyth had over 280 submissions, which, on those released publicly were severely critical of CASA in general.

A gullible public deserves better than the article below, by the “about-to-depart” John McCormick.

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CASA says helicopter association’s claims are wide of the mark

 AUSTRALIA’S helicopter industry is a vibrant and growing sector of aviation, providing vital services to the public, industry and government agencies.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority recognises the vital role played by the sector and the importance of its continued growth. In developing new safety regulations for operations, including helicopters, CASA strives to achieve the optimal safety outcomes while ensuring the rules do not impose unnecessary costs or administrative burdens.

CASA is required to prepare a regulatory impact statement outlining the costs that may be associated with the introduction of new regulations and the justification for any such costs. These statements are assessed and cleared by the Office of Best Practice Regulation in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

For these reasons, among others, I was disappointed to see the negative comments made by the Australian Helicopter Industry Association about the new licensing suite of regulations, which take effect from September 1.

Many of the claims made by the association were wide of the mark and do not reflect the close consultation CASA has been undertaking with the broader helicopter community, including association representatives.

The association’s comments also reflect an incomplete understanding of the manual of standards for Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, which sets out in detail the aeronautical knowledge and flight standards required for all pilot licences, ratings and endorsements. The manual of standards replaces the current day visual flight rules syllabuses for aeroplane and helicopter licences, as well as the standards now included in civil aviation orders and the practical information set out in civil aviation advisory publications.

The standards prescribed in the manual for each flight crew licence reflect the rules and practices used by CASA and the aviation industry for more than 10 years. Minor amendments have been made to these to enhance their content and improve layout.

A high level of consultation was undertaken in developing the manual, including workshops, consultation on drafts and amendments to drafts. A CASA officer with helicopter expertise was made available to liaise with the Australian Helicopter Industry Association on the development of both the regulations and the manual.

Claims by the association that CASA has not developed “three-tier format” legislation are incorrect. In fact, this has been done: the manual of standards is empowered by the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations, which are themselves empowered by the Civil Aviation Act. Plain English advisory circulars and guidance material are also produced to help the aviation industry understand and implement new standards. In the case of the licensing suite, CASA has produced a package of 16 easy-to-follow information sheets to explain key aspects of the licensing regulations and standards. In addition, a program of AvSafety seminars is under way around the country to take people through the rules.

CASA rejects the claim that elements of the manual can encourage unsafe practices. Where earlier drafts of the manual revealed some unintended consequences, appropriate changes were made, informed by constructive feedback from the industry. That is one of the purposes of the consultation process. It goes without saying that CASA would never intentionally introduce or retain requirements that might be detrimental to safety.

It is important to understand that the regulations have been developed to align Australia’s rules with the operational standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. For the helicopter sector this includes instrument training for private and commercial pilot licences.

However, CASA has deferred this particular requirement in the regulations until 2017 to give the helicopter industry sufficient time to prepare for this type of training.

CASA has noted the Australian Helicopter Industry Association’s claim that the new rules will require an increase in the number of flight examiners required. While the number of flight tests does increase under the new regulations, many of these are covered by existing flight assessments done by authorised pilots. These authorised pilots will become flight examiners under the new regulations. Part 61 also includes a provision that makes it easier for CASA to authorise pilots to perform functions such as flight tests. In addition appropriate arrangements have been made for CASA’s flying operations inspectors to perform necessary functions, including the conduct of flight tests.

CASA will continue to work co-operatively and collaboratively with the helicopter industry, as we do with all other sectors of Australian aviation, to develop new, improved and safer regulations and standards where required. CASA’s aim at all times is to create and maintain a better regulatory environment in which the Australian industry can safely flourish.

John McCormick is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s director of aviation safety.