Part 61, which was introduced in September 2014, has caused consternation among sectors of the aviation industry which has prompted CASA to make adjustments to how these new suite of regulations for ratings, licences and endorsements are being implemented.
Speaking to reporters during a conference call on Tuesday, Skidmore said CASA had already received about 10 emails from pilots since the letter was posted on April 23, offering suggestions or questions on topics such as ratings and endorsements, suggestions for medical tests and flight reviews and the format of the licence, among other topics.
Skidmore, who started as Director of Aviation Safety in January, acknowledged CASA had not implemented Part 61 “as well as we should have”.
While he believed the regulator was coming to grips with the major concerns out there in the community, more feedback was needed.
“Communication is definitely one of the things we need to work on to make sure that people can clearly understand what it is we are trying to achieve with Part 61,” Skidmore said.
“We have to be consistent in our approach to the aviation community so we don’t confuse them so we can make sure we are providing good, relevant consistent information out to people. I will continue to drive that.
“I don’t know what I don’t know, hence the letter to say we are working on this, we are getting good information but we would like to know more. If you’ve got something let us know.”
In the letter, the Director of Aviation Safety said some of the changes to Part 61 already made were related to check pilots conducting proficiency checks, low level ratings and aerial mustering training and flight testing, fire fighting operations, aerial application proficiency checks and R22 and R44 helicopter ratings.
It also said about 10,600 new Part 61 licences have been issued since September 2014, with the transition period running until September 2018.
The Part 61 manual available on the CASA website is published in four volumes and runs to more than 600 pages.
CASA manager for flightcrew licensing standards Roger Crosthwaite said the document needed to be large given it covered a such a large array of ratings, licenses and endorsements.
There were plans, however, to make the information more accessible for industry participants, with better presentation and enabling scenario-based searches.
“I am very hopeful that we will have a more electronic version where people go on and say I want to get the standards for the PPL helicopter and the system will provide those, draw them together, under a knowledge base to present the standards,” Crosthwaite said.
The move to introduce Part 61 came before Skidmore’s joined CASA and was during a period where the industry and the regulator experienced an at-times difficult working relationship, which was highlighted in the Aviation Safety Regulatory Review.
Moreover, some in the industry warned CASA at the time of the difficulties Part 61 would cause.
Skidmore said although he was unable to change what happened in the past, he was committed to rebuild some of the trust that was lost in recent times by learning from what had happened and making sure “we don’t do it again”.
Part of that will be cultural change “both on my side for CASA and externally for the community to understand and to trust us”.
“Cultural change takes five to seven years,” Skidmore said.
“In a year or two, you will start to see it actually going. I will be looking for that.”
CASA’s letter to pilots can be read here.