After many years as an industry participant, I have great pleasure in providing my first foreword to an annual report for CASA. It is an honour to be entrusted as Chair of the Board to help steer our future direction in a challenging era of change, where the growth in technology around remotely piloted aircraft systems may be comparable to the transition from horse and cart to automobile.
This is my first year in the role of Chair and it has been a privilege to get such a significant insight into the breadth and depth of work that CASA undertakes to regulate the industry that we are all so passionate about. I have a new appreciation for the commitment CASA has to supporting industry. The regulator is beholden to government but is seeking to develop a customer-centric approach to the work it undertakes.
Developments and challenges
The reporting period has seen a range of developments of which CASA is rightly proud. The new suite of flight operations regulations has been made, the aviation medical system has been reformed, new training regulations are in place and the policy on radio frequency use in low-level airspace has been settled. We have a new and improved approach to safety surveillance, and the transition to the new self-administering organisations regulations is in progress. Following the making of the six new operational regulatory Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) Parts and the Parts 141 and 142 transition, our next regulatory development goal is to complete the remaining three Parts before the end of this year, with work well underway to achieve that.
Remotely piloted aircraft systems are front of mind; the significant number of drones in Australian skies indicates the level of risk that CASA is assessing. We have been in discussions with government on how this additional workload impacts on the other important aviation safety work that CASA undertakes. Balancing government’s expectations regarding recovery of CASA’s costs against a backdrop of reducing the cost of regulatory services to industry is a challenging conundrum that we continue to juggle.
We have a renewed focus on stakeholder engagement. The success of the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel and the associated technical working groups has been testament to the growing voice of an industry ready to discuss the merits of proposed regulation to achieve successful outcomes for everybody. The CASA Board is playing its part and has held industry engagement events to coincide with Board meetings in Darwin, Adelaide and Cairns. We intend to continue these events around the country to enable industry members to meet the Board in a relaxed environment to discuss any matters they consider relevant.
The Minister’s Statement of Expectations expired at the end of June 2019. The statement had been in place since 27 March 2017, and required CASA to, among other things:
- continue to focus on aviation safety as the highest priority
- consider the economic and cost impacts on individuals, businesses and the community in the development and finalisation of new or amended regulatory changes
- take a pragmatic, practical and proportionate approach to regulation as it applies to different industry sectors, having regard to risk
- implement its regulatory philosophy, with the philosophy being reflected in relevant policies, procedures and manuals, and when CASA personnel are carrying out their day-today operations.
- I am very satisfied that CASA has achieved what it has been asked to do. Being a regulator will not win any popularity contests. I have heard the criticism, some of which is warranted; the rest is well wide of the mark. I can assure you, however, that CASA is working hard to be the best possible aviation safety regulator for all sectors of the aviation community and the broader Australian public.
This annual report is a thorough reflection of a busy and productive year. Under the strong leadership of the Director of Aviation Safety and his senior team, CASA has made significant progress in many areas, some of which are highlighted above.
I consider it a huge honour to be performing this role. With my colleagues on the Board, I will be doing everything I can to make sure that CASA is as good as it can be, for all of us.
Chair of the CASA Board