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More flak for #casa over poor regulations

RAAA’s Higgins published the following in The Australian today.

It demonstrates exactly why the #aviation industry does not like the prescriptive methods employed by #casa, nor is in favour of ratification.

The areas that cause most angst in the #aviation industry are 48.1, 100.5, Parts 61, 141, 142, but there are other areas as well.

In particular, the re-wording and re-direction of CAAct 9A.

The following organisations are in lock-step over the requirements for #aviation:

AMROBA has been strident in calling for the US-FAR’s

AND the Model Litigant provisions – MLO


pilot numbers


Aviation’s Fatigue Risk Management System needs complete rethink

WA’s Royal Flying Doctor Service would have to employ 17 more pilots to comply with Civil Aviation Order 48.1.

  • The Australian

It is time the Civil Aviation Safety Authority settled the fatigue risk management system debate once and for all.

The FRMS is designed to ensure flight crews are not subjected to the adverse effects of fatigue while on duty. The FRMS guides the design and management of rostering systems.

It also provides for crew education and awareness around lifestyle choices and the science behind sleep patterns.

The present regulations have provided a safe operational environment for regular public transport in regional Australian operations for many years.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau statistics support this contention.

CASA can design and make laws in several guises. One option is the drafting of civil aviation orders. The proposed rules must be put on hold and CASA needs to carry out a comprehensive review of the new regulations.

This should include a comparison with fatigue risk management rules in overseas jurisdictions such as the US, Europe and New Zealand.

The proposed fatigue rules contained in Civil Aviation Order 48.1 pertaining to Australian regional aviation are far more restrictive than in these countries and CASA has not provided any valid justification for such an unnecessary impost on the regional aviation industry.

For example, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (West Australian section) employs about 50 pilots. The new CAO 48.1 would mean it would have to employ an additional 17 pilots at a cost of $2.1 million every year, for no demonstrated safety outcome.

This is a completely unwarranted attack on one of the safest and most professionally managed organisations in the world.

The review must not be conducted on the CASA premise that fatigue is an unmitigated risk in the industry and simply examine whether CAO 48.1 will fix “the fatigue issue”. It must examine whether there is any empirical evidence that justifies the new CAO 48.1 rule set.

It is ironic that Australian regional operators are faced with the most restrictive and costly rules in the world yet operate in a far less fatigue-inducing environment than the US or Europe.

Everyone agrees that fatigue is a hazard that needs managing.

Everyone agrees that long-haul operations need a comprehensive FRMS.

Everyone who is actually working in the industry and operating in a prudent and safe manner understands the requirements and application of CAO 48.0 plus the standard industry exemptions.

Everyone (including the ATSB) who takes an objective view of the status quo agrees there are no unmitigated fatigue issues in regional Australian regular public transport operations.

CASA has yet to supply the Regional Aviation Association of Australia with a substantive supporting safety case despite three Freedom of Information requests.

Neither has CASA ever expended any effort to investigate the “state of the nation” and actually sit down with operators and their safety management systems and obtain the real data. CASA claims it simply does not have the resources for such action.

The wonderfully feel-good written communications from CASA very recently talks about collaboration, consultation, being a fair regulator, just culture and so on. This is at complete odds with what is actually happening.

As for any International Civil Aviation Organisation-compliant red herring argument, don’t be distracted.

We can easily establish that the status quo of SMS, 48.0 and the standard industry exemptions are ICAO-compliant.

The industry would welcome an independent review, but not simply of the efficacy of CAO 48.1 to manage fatigue. That is not our argument, never has been and never will be.

Any review needs to start right back at the beginning and establish if there is in fact an unmitigated risk that needs addressing.

We need a truly independent risk analysis to determine if there is in fact an unmitigated problem in the first place. We believe it would be best conducted by an overseas expert as we doubt there are any independent reviewers available in Australia. They all have a vested interest in the prosecution of CAO 48.1 as they stand to make significant windfalls from drafting myriad FRMS systems.

Any review should be well funded as just going to tender may result in the lowest cost option with the outcome not supported by the industry.

I wish CASA would listen to the industry, accept reality and announce a moratorium on the starting date of CAO 48.1. That way we can all take a step back from the brink, stop the public stoushes and take a more professional and cool-headed approach.

CASA got itself into this embarrassing position by assuming there was a problem and concocted CAO 48.1.

It remains a case of a sledgehammer looking for a shoe tack.

Mike Higgins is chief executive of the Regional Aviation Association of Australia.