Rather than merely keeping the seat warm until a permanent replacement is named, Shane Carmody says he intends to exercise the full authority of his office to maintain the pace of reform at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
In his first public speech to industry since starting as acting director of aviation safety and chief executive earlier in October, Carmody said the “acting” in his job title had little bearing on how he would conduct affairs at CASA.
“Don’t be fooled by the acting title. I don’t act real well,” Carmody told delegates at the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) National Convention at the NSW Hunter Valley on Friday.
“My appointment was agreed by the board and it was agreed by Cabinet.
“As far as I’m concerned I’ve got full authority, which I will use, and I have got full accountability, which I will wear for the decisions that I make and the decisions that go with the position.
“Over the next few months I intend to meet with anyone who is interested in improving aviation safety and I would really welcome [that] opportunity.”
Carmody has replaced Mark Skidmore, who resigned less than two years into his five-year term as CASA director of aviation safety and chief executive, citing personal reasons.
During Skidmore’s tenure as chief he undertook 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.
A new timeline on the implementation of the new regulations was also announced.
Nonetheless, there remained frustration within the aviation industry at the slow pace of change at CASA.
Carmody said CASA was still working its way through the recommendations from the Aviation Safety Regulatory Review (ASRR), which he described as a priority.
“My focus is on delivering a firm, fair and balanced aviation safety regulation system, promoting a positive and collaborative approach,” Carmody said.
“Many would argue that CASA doesn’t always get this right and I agree absolutely. But the industry doesn’t always get it right either and a lot of you would agree with that.”
“So somewhere in between is the reality.”
Carmody said a decision on a permanent replacement to Mark Skidmore was “not expected until well into the new year”.
“Noting that the last appointment took about six months, so this one could take a while,” Carmody said.
The new CASA head also used his speech to address the contentious issues of new regulations covering the commercial use of drones and pilot fatigue.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester has recently announced a review of new rules covering the operation of remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs).
The new rules have drawn criticism from pilot groups and independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who aims to strike down the regulations in federal parliament.
Carmody said initial figures showed 1,350 operators had notified CASA they were commercially operating RPAs of less than two kilograms since the new rules came into effect on September 29.
Separately, Carmody said CASA would conduct an independent and comprehensive review on fatigue limits. CASA has extended the deadline for implementing Civil Aviation Order 48.1 covering fatigue risk management by a further 12 months.