Skidmore says tensions between CASA and industry “normal” and sign of a healthy relationship

written by australianaviation.com.au | September 27, 2016
CASA Director of Aviation Safety Mark Skidmore AM (CASA)
CASA Director of Aviation Safety Mark Skidmore AM (CASA)

Outgoing Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) chief executive and director of aviation safety Mark Skidmore says his efforts to overhaul the regulator will pave the way for an improved relationship with industry.

Skidmore, who announced his resignation in August less than two years into a five-year term for personal reasons, says in his final CASA Briefing column much work has been done to make CASA more open, accountable and transparent.

“I put a lot of effort into making it clear CASA is not the sole source of expertise on aviation safety and collaboration with the aviation community is essential,” Skidmore said.

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“I believe many of the changes I have driven at CASA will embed this collaborative and co-operative approach in the years ahead as the relationship between the regulator and the aviation community matures and strengthens.”

Since starting at CASA in January 2015, Skidmore has undertaken an organisational overhaul of CASA’s structure, forming three main groups – a stakeholder engagement group, an aviation group and a sustainability group – as part of the aviation safety regulator’s response to the Aviation Safety Regulatory Review (ASRR).

The retired RAAF Air Vice-Marshal has also sought to respond to the views of industry, including issuing a new timetable for regulatory changes, including those covering general operating rules, air transport operations, aerial work, continuing airworthiness and maintenance for small aircraft, small aircraft maintenance licensing, sport and recreational operations and unmanned aircraft.

Despite all this, there remained parts of the aviation community that expressed frustration at the slow pace of change at CASA.

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Skidmore acknowledged there would always be “points of tension between the regulator and the regulated”.

However, this was normal and the sign of a healthy relationship.

“As the safety relationship matures we all need to recognise these points of tension and work to address our differences in a positive way,” Skidmore said.

“Genuinely listening to each other is critical and sometimes both sides will have to accept there is no magical middle solution that satisfies everyone.

“What CASA and the aviation community must strive for are the right safety outcomes, reached through proper processes, real consultation and transparent decision making.

“We then must all respect the decisions that are taken in the best interests of the safety of the aviation and wider communities. If CASA and the aviation community can reach this point we will have taken huge steps forward from the regulatory warfare that still breaks out from time to time, needlessly chewing up the time and resources of many people.”

On September 1, CASA chairman Jeff Boyd said Shane Carmody had been appointed as acting chief executive and director of aviation safety (DAS) while the global search for Skidmore’s replacement was underway.

Carmody is currently a deputy secretary at the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development with responsibility for aviation and airports, the Office of Transport Security, the Western Sydney Unit and local government and territories.

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