Australia’s two primary aviation regulatory bodies have signed a new memorandum of understanding which places a renewed emphasis on cooperation to improve aviation safety.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) director of aviation safety Mark Skidmore and Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) chief commissioner put pen to paper on the new MoU on Monday.
The new MoU is for three years and outlines how the two agencies will interact with each other and covers notifications of accidents and incidents. It also covers access to evidence, exchange of information and initiating safety action.
“Significantly, both agencies have reiterated a commitment to tell the other agency about matters they reasonably believe the other agency needs to know for safety purposes,” CASA and the ATSB said in a joint statement.
A new MoU between the ATSB and CASA was one of the recommendations of the Aviation Safety Regulatory Review (ASRR), which called for the two bodies to “amend the wording of their existing Memorandum of Understanding to make it more definitive about interaction, coordination, and cooperation”.
The federal government agreed with this recommendation when it handed down its response to the ASRR in December 2014.
“The government also agrees in-principle to better information sharing between industry and safety agencies which is a well-established, international best practice and can assist in preventing future safety occurrences,” the government said in its response to the ASRR.
“However, mindful of industry concerns in this area, the transition to a greater flow of information between industry, the ATSB and CASA must continue to be accompanied by CASA adhering to its sound policy declarations on exactly how aviation safety information will be used.”
Skidmore said it was “important for the agencies to share safety information while recognising that there are limits to what the accident investigator can provide to the regulator”.
“Where those limits exist, the ATSB makes the decision on what information is provided and CASA will only ask the ATSB for certain kinds of information if it is necessary in the demonstrable interests of safety,” Skidmore said.
“Of course, if CASA has information it believes relevant to an ATSB investigation, we will let the ATSB know.”
Dolan added: “The MoU spells out how the two agencies will cooperate in the interests of improving aviation safety. We are working together – with the ATSB identifying safety issues through its investigations and findings, and CASA and the industry responding to those issues, as appropriate – to promote high standards of aviation safety.”