Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss announced on Thursday an independent review of aviation safety regulation in Australia.
In launching the review, Truss said: “Aviation activity is expected to double in the next twenty years. The industry is a vital part of our economy and we must ensure it is supported by a regulatory system that delivers the highest levels of safety.”
Truss recognised the senate report earlier this year into Aviation Accident Investigations led by Senator David Fawcett, which highlighted a range of issues with the regulation and governance of aviation safety within Australia.
“Now is the right time to reassess how our safety regulatory system is placed in dealing with this dynamic and evolving sector. The independent review reinforces the government’s commitment to maintaining safety as the highest priority in aviation.
“The review will be strategic in nature. It is about whether we are on the right track to meet future challenges and respond to growing demand in aviation,” he added.
The review is to be undertaken by a panel of leading aviation safety experts and will benchmark Australia’s safety regulation against other leading countries.
Safe Skies chairman and former chair of Airservices Australia David Forsyth will head the review panel. He will be joined by Don Spruston, former director general of civil aviation at Transport Canada and former Director General of the International Business Aviation Council, and by Roger Whitefield, former head of safety at British Airways, former safety adviser to Qantas and former United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority board member.
Over the coming months, the review panel will undertake extensive industry and public consultation and is scheduled to provide its report to the Deputy Prime Minister in May 2014.
Among the principal objectives of the review is to investigate the structures, effectiveness and processes of all agencies involved in aviation safety as well as the suitability of Australia’s aviation safety related regulations when benchmarked against comparable overseas jurisdictions, a move that will be welcomed by industry.
The review will make recommendations on the aviation safety roles of CASA and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and other agencies and outline and identify any areas for improvement in the current interaction and relationships between CASA and the ATSB, as well as other agencies and Infrastructure.
It will also examine the current processes by which CASA develops, consults on and finalises changes to aviation safety regulations and other legislative instruments such as civil aviation orders, and make proposals for improving these processes.
The Australian Airports Association (AAA) has welcomed the release of the terms of reference for the review, CEO Caroline Wilkie saying it was “pleasing to see the government acting on its commitment to hold the review early in its term”. The announcement delivers on one of the key commitments outlined in the Coalition’s 2013 Policy for Aviation.
The AAA said that for airport operators, important issues to be considered by the review include the adequacy of resourcing for regulatory agencies such as CASA, with particular attention given to the importance of updating key documents such as the Manual of Standards (139) for aerodromes.
“Airport operators work closely and productively with CASA, but it is important that our regulatory agencies are able to devote the right resources to priority issues so they are addressed in a timely and efficient way,” Wilkie said.