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Review by the Chief Executive Officer/Director of Aviation Safety

CASA achieved significant results during the 2019–20 reporting period. Important amongst these was the conclusion of a key regulatory milestone through the completion of the regulatory development program. At the same time, we were able to provide regulatory support and safety oversight amid a devastating bushfire season as well as through the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst continuing programs to simplify and streamline many of our services.

Being a safety regulator is challenging, but I am confident that CASA and its people continue to achieve quality outcomes for the Australian aviation sector. Australia has a safe and highly respected aviation safety system which remains one of the best in the world.

The following is a summary of CASA’s noteworthy achievements for 2019–20.

Finalising the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations

At the beginning of the 2019–20 reporting period we had three remaining flight operations regulations to complete. I am pleased that we were able have them signed by the Governor-General in late 2019, finalising the long-standing regulatory development program that I undertook to finish when I was appointed as Chief Executive Officer/Director of Aviation Safety. Over the past two years there has been an enormous amount of effort expended by CASA staff, the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel and the associated technical working groups, and the broader aviation industry to achieve this goal. I extend my sincere gratitude to you all. This is certainly a milestone in aviation safety.

Not only do the new rules consolidate the existing flight operations rules, they also deliver safety improvements and align with international best practice. These new rules will have an impact on the majority of pilots and operators in Australia. However, making the rules is only the first step. There is considerable remaining work to do between now and their commencement in December 2021 to support the implementation and development of detailed explanatory and guidance material to ensure a successful transition to the new rules.

Transforming our services digitally

We continue to enhance our digital services platform for industry to provide simple and efficient processing of applications for basic services such as aviation reference numbers for individuals and organisations. The processing of applications for remote pilot licences is fully available online through the myCASA portal, as are renewals of remotely piloted aircraft operator certificates. We will be introducing an electronic pilot licensing system in the next six months and online aircraft registrations in the future.

Consulting on change

In response to the independent review and extensive industry consultation, we finalised the fatigue rules under Civil Aviation Order 48.1 Instrument 2019. The instrument commenced and provided a staged commencement over 2019 and 2020. Alert to the effects of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, we have agreed to extend transition dates by a full 12 months.

We continued to consult on proposed changes via the CASA Consultation Hub, with 48 consultations conducted during the reporting period, and I thank those who contributed to the consultations. The feedback and advice received is critical to ensure that we draft regulations that are modern, relevant and simple to understand and consider the cost impact for operators.

The Aviation Safety Advisory Panel has been instrumental in our regulatory progress during the period, as well as the hub that is used to manage all our consultation material.

Regulatory relief

CASA has provided significant relief to industry in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic continues to disrupt business and flying operations and significantly reduce the overall level of aviation activity. We are actively managing our response to the COVID-19 situation to ensure the ongoing safety of aviation, while taking a flexible regulatory approach to help alleviate the pressure on Australian operators.

We have also adjusted our approach to surveillance to account for reduced levels of activity and new and emerging sector risks.

Financial results

CASA recorded an operating deficit of $12.4 million in 2019–20, compared to a $3.5 million deficit in 2018–19.

The difference of $8.9 million reflects the overall result of an increase in income of $4.8 million and an increase in expenses of $13.7 million.

Further information on CASA’s financial results see Financial summary.

Outcomes not achieved

Although we achieved the majority of what we had set out to do this year, our progress in some areas was hindered by the pandemic.

COVID-19 has clearly had an impact on planned surveillance and has resulted in the number of planned surveillance events being under target. At the same time, the reduction in on-site surveillance has resulted in a significant increase in desktop surveillance.

Several high-profile engagement opportunities were cancelled or postponed. These included senior-level engagement with overseas authorities and engagement with the International Civil Aviation Organization and many other forums to which CASA regularly contributes. Many of the engagements have since been facilitated utilising online methods.

A number of airworthiness strategy recognition agreements did not progress as planned, due to requests for deferral from the respective national aviation authority or cancellation of international meetings due to COVID-19. CASA remains committed to finalising these agreements in the coming year.

CASA is continuing discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand on remote training mechanisms, in an effort to establish the Australian operational colour vision assessment (OCVA). The OCVA was expected to be in place in early 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The year ahead

The year ahead will see CASA support the aviation industry’s steady return to operations after the pandemic.

As we move into the recovery journey it is important to stop and think carefully about the safety implications of a return to our ‘new normal’ aviation operations.

We will continue to focus on cross-entity collaboration in some large whole-of-government initiatives, including the Australian Space Agency and Geoscience Australia.

We will aim to finalise the new continuing airworthiness regulations, known as Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) Part 43, for general aviation and aerial work (incorporating future CASR Parts 91, 137 and 138 operations). The aim is to develop a more efficient regulatory environment to provide for reduction of maintenance costs while maintaining appropriate level of safety.

Other key areas of focus for 2020–21, across all divisions of CASA, include:

  • finalising the Regulatory Services and Surveillance Transformation Program
  • introducing case management functionality within our European Aviation Processing (EAP) regulatory service management system
  • implementing an enhanced regulatory oversight operating model
  • driving an effective aviation safety regulatory framework that enables remotely piloted aircraft systems to operate safely within an integrated Australian aviation system
  • preparing for the flight operations regulations to commence in December 2021
  • developing guidance materials to support industry to transition to new flight crew fatigue rules under Civil Aviation Order 48.1
  • further amending the CASR Part 61 flight crew licensing scheme
  • managing the return to service of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Appreciation

This is my last annual report as Chief Executive Officer/Director of Aviation Safety. I owe a sincere debt of gratitude to all of my colleagues and the industry for their ongoing commitment to aviation safety. During the last four years we have faced many challenges in the regulation of aviation safety that we have worked through pragmatically. I am proud to have led an organisation committed to achieving broad safety outcomes for all Australians, be they participants in our fantastic aviation industry or beneficiaries of our aviation safety approach and culture, thereby achieving CASA’s vision of Safe skies for all. I wish you all the best for the future.

Shane Carmody
Chief Executive Officer/Director of Aviation Safety

Chief Executive Officer/Director of Aviation Safety Picture of Chief Executive Officer/Director of Aviation Safety Shane Carmody
Shane Carmody