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CASA mandates terrain warning systems on more aircraft

written by Jake Nelson | November 30, 2023

The cockpit of a Jetstar A321neo. (Image: Jake Nelson)

CASA is expanding requirements for aircraft to be equipped with terrain awareness warning systems (TAWS), including some piston-engine aircraft for the first time.

As of 2 December, turbine or piston-driven passenger planes with a maximum take-off weight of more than 5,700kg or fitted with 10 or more passenger seats, as well as cargo planes with a maximum take-off weight of more than 8,618kg, will need to be fitted with TAWS.

The system, which alerts pilots to potentially dangerous terrain or obstructions ahead of their aircraft, is currently only required on turbine-driven commercial cargo or passenger planes with a maximum take-off weight of 15,000kg or are fitted with 10 or more passenger seats.

“Helicopters conducting commercial passenger transport operations with 10 or more passenger seats or commercial medical transport operations will also now require the technology,” said CASA.

CASA CEO and director of aviation, Pip Spence, said the new requirements are part of the aviation safety watchdog’s priority of ensuring passengers remain safe on commercial aircraft.


“TAWS is a valuable safety tool that has been shown to prevent accidents involving collisions with terrain,” Spence said.

“Widening the number of aircraft required to be fitted with the technology is in keeping with CASA’s mandate to protect Australia’s strong safety reputation.

“It complements existing safeguards that include ramp checks, audits and other surveillance measures.”

TAWS, which was first introduced to commercial passenger planes in the 1970s, encompasses both ground proximity warning systems and enhanced ground proximity warning systems. They are designed to prevent controlled flight into terrain accidents by allowing pilots enough warning to avoid collisions with obstructions such as mountains.

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