Mark Skidmore promised to make listening a priority when he took over as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) new director of aviation safety (DAS).
And in his first CASA briefing note, Skidmore highlighted listening as one of his five key principles and promised the regulator would communicate clearly, simply and effectively with the community.
So CASA’s decision on the question of how community service flights are regulated is perhaps the first sign of this emphasis on listening to community views.
CASA said on Friday people power had persuaded the regulator to maintain the status quo on how not-for-profit community service flights were regulated, with the present guidelines guidelines sufficient for now.
“We have listened to the feedback to CASA’s preferred option and we accept this is not the way to proceed,” Skidmore said in a statement.
“CASA is not proposing any changes to the existing regulatory requirements for community service flights at this time.”
A CASA discussion paper released in August – before Skidmore’s appointment as the new DAS – outlined a number of options that would change the way community service flights were regulated.
The regulator’s preferred option was for charity groups to be given the responsibility to “ensure that the pilots and aircraft meet specified standards when conducting such activities under the organisation’s auspices”.
This would mean they would have to, among other things, assess pilots, monitor pilot currency, assess and approve aircraft for their operations and conduct regular pilot proficiency checking as an Approved Self-administering Aviation Organisation (ASAAO).
Charity groups such as Angel Flight strongly opposed CASA’s preferred option, citing the cost and complexity of managing such a scheme.
CASA received 65 submissions to the discussion paper.
Skidmore said CASA would continue to look at the topic of how charity flights are regulated, given the discussion paper had 10 options for consideration.
However, the new CASA DAS – Skidmore started in the role on January 1 – said there would be additional consultation with the aviation community and the public should the regulator explore any of those options further.
“CASA recognises the importance of community service operations such as Angel Flight to rural and regional Australia,” Skidmore said.
“Given the community clearly values the benefits of these flights CASA will not take any action that unnecessarily limits their ability to operate.”