The Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) is calling on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to temporarily put on hold its regulation reform process following the August 25 resignation of the regulator’s Director of Aviation Safety (DAS), Mark Skidmore.
“With the current confusion in industry and inconsistency of interpretation of regulations, the AHIA encourages CASA’s board to impose a moratorium on the current regulatory reform process until the restructuring of senior management with appropriately qualified personnel is completed,” said AHIA president Peter Crook.
“Additionally the entire organisation is in need of clarification of direction. With possibly the most industry astute CASA board for some decades and a new industry interested Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, the time is right for significant change.”
The AHIA is also urging the federal government to encourage CASA to harmonise Australia’s regulations and specific operational requirements with other international regulatory bodies such as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
“The need for uniformity throughout the world is higher today because the aviation market is now a true global market demanding harmonisation,” said Crook.
“The US system is very mature and is seen as the world standard on which most other governments model their aviation systems. Harmonisation could be achieved by adopting the ICAO standards and recommended practices by adapting the Federal Aviation Regulations. This could be the most expeditious and cost effective solution, reducing the amount of red tape that currently hinders aviation development due to non-standard and unique Australian rules and requirements.”
To achieve this, the AHIA is strongly suggesting effort be spent on sourcing a new DAS domestically.
“An individual ideally with a civil aviation background who understands the financial and operational impact on industry of proposed regulation changes,” said Crook.
“A recent survey commissioned by the CASA Board indicated less than favourable results with the industry having little faith in the ability of the regulator to move ahead with safe, economical and meaningful regulatory reform. Harmonising with ICAO would simplify rules, in plain english and standardise practices and procedures with regard to communications systems, air traffic control, airworthiness, crew and engineering licensing, just to name a few.”
Australia operates the second largest number of helicopters in the western world behind the US with nearly 2,200 helicopters on the civil register.
There are in excess of 3,500 private and commercial helicopter pilots and more than 2,500 rotary wing engineers employed in the industry.
CASA has appointed senior public servant Shane Carmody as acting DAS and chief executive while the search for Skidmore’s permanent replacement was underway.