Australia’s acting director of aviation safety (DAS) has expressed hope that the regulator’s relationship with industry can be one of mutual respect and understanding.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has been the subject of strong criticism in the recently published Aviation Safety Regulatory Review (ASRR). However, Terry Farquarson says criticism of CASA is nothing new, pointing to “endless” reports over the years which have described Australia’s aviation regulator as either too harsh or too soft on industry players.
Farquarson, who was named acting DAS in September and will be filling in until a permanent replacement was announced, told delegates at the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) national convention views on CASA usually swung between these two extremes.
“I for one think this is pretty wasteful because as all of these oscillations go about the place, we spend far too much time down in the ditch perhaps fighting one another rather than focusing on safety,” Farquarson said in the NSW Hunter Valley on Thursday.
“Safety is an element of what the industry does, it is the reason for CASA being there and the government have made no suggestions they are going to rehash the Civil Aviation Act in any fundamental way.”
The ASRR report, published in June, highlighted the sometimes “adversarial” relationship between CASA and the industry and called for substantial structural and culture change at the regulator, among other matters. It also said the appointment of a new DAS was a chance to reform the culture of the organisation.
John McCormick left CASA at the end of his contract in August, after five and a half years as the director of aviation safety.
Farquarson said CASA, in its role as aviation safety regulator, had to make tough, sometimes unpopular decisions. He also acknowledged it was currently a period of change with “a lot of stuff coming through” as they moved to new systems and regulations.
However, he noted there were extensive transition periods and support available as people came to grips with the new systems.
“Most importantly, we need to move into the future with a mutually respectful understanding of each other’s roles,” Farquarson said.
“Chucking bricks, going into the trenches is unhelpful in the extreme.
“I hope this gives us a platform to work conjointly for a better safety future.”