The regulator said in a statement on Friday that operators would now have until May 1 2018 to transition to the proposed new provisions in Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 48.1, which covered fatigue risk management. It is the second time CASA has pushed back the implementation of CAO 48.1.
CASA said the extension was in response to feedback from the aviation community, including from a series of workshops conducted across Australia between May and July 2016.
Further, CASA it would conduct an “independent and comprehensive review of fatigue limits” during the extended transition period.
“This feedback indicated there was a need for CASA to provide more support through education and information on the new fatigue rules,” CASA said.
“Air operators also wanted more time to consider their options under CAO 48.1, with a number asking for extra time to develop and implement fatigue risk management systems.
“CASA is committed to modernising and improving the safety regulation of fatigue and is encouraging a continued focus on fatigue management by air operators.”
The Australian Aviation Associations’ Forum (TAAAF), which comprises peak representative bodies in the local industry, had previously called on CASA to abolish CAO 48.1, arguing that “industry rejects the limited science it is based on, the ignoring of decades of safe operations, the massive costs it will impose and the complexity that will inevitably lead to non-compliance”.
But the Australian Airline Pilots Association (AusALPA) said its members were “very concerned” about the delay and described fatigue as a “clear safety issue” given how often it had been cited as a contributing factor in recent aviation accidents and incidents.
The association, which represents about 6,000 professional pilots in Australia, called on CASA to implement the new regulations in May 2017 as planned.
“AusALPA is deeply concerned that the further delay only serves the commercial interests of industry bodies, such as the Regional Aviation Association of Australia, instead of an improved, more scientific approach to pilot fatigue risk management,” AusALPA president and Qantas Boeing 737 pilot Nathan Safe said in a statement.
Captain David Booth, vice-president of AusALPA and a Virgin 737 pilot said: “These delays have rewarded those operators who have chosen not to work towards science-based solutions. Even those who have commenced the transition may cease work awaiting the outcome of the review.”
CASA said operators that have transitioned to the fatigue rules in CAO 48.1 would be able to continue to operate under the new provisions.