Pledge to force switch to us regulations in response to general aviation ‘mayday’ call

Senator Rex Patrick

Independent Senator Rex Patrick has today pledged to introduce a Bill into the 47th Parliament that would require the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to abandon its complicated, overly duplicated and burdensome home-grown General Aviation regulations and, instead, switch to US Federal Aviation Authority regulations.

“CASA has crushed General Aviation in this country. It has taken the view that the best way to make sure there are no accidents in the skies over Australia is to ensure that it’s overly burdensome and too costly to ever have an aircraft take off from a runway,” Senator Patrick said.

“CASA has not listened to industry and they have not listened to the Parliament. Regulation of General Aviation should not equal destruction of General Aviation, and it’s now abundantly clear a broom needs to be put through the Authority. They have become a self-serving and destructive force in aviation in Australia”.

Since 1995, when CASA was first established, there has been significant shrinkage in General Aviation across Australia. Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics statistics on flying hours show massive declines as recently 2019 to 2020; Own use business flying down 24.3%, Instructional flying down 9.4%, Sports/pleasure flying down 25.8% and other flying down 28.1%.

“The industry has faced an unreasonable regulatory burden quite disproportionate to any benefit in safety outcomes. CASA basically treats small aircraft operators as though they are regular public transport operators like Qantas, Virgin and REX.”

Areas of CASA over-regulation include:

  • Pilot Licensing and Category Rating (Civil Aviation Safety Regulation Part 61) – regulatory overreach which has decimated industry training.
  • Maintenance licensing (CASR Part 66) – duplicated and excessive regulations that have contributed to the downturn in the number of Licenced Aircraft Maintenance Engineers.
  • Flight medical examination (CASR Part 67) – regulatory overkill costing pilots $480 with bureaucrats, never having met the pilots, overturning doctors’ recommendations.
  • Air Transport rules for smaller aeroplanes (CASR Part 135) – limits on number of seats.
  • Training organisation requirements (CASR Part 141 and 142) – A staggering amount of new regulations that have killed off flying schools.

“Regulations have been issued by CASA without safety cases to justify changes, without regard to cost and without proper regard to risk, noting the smaller sized aircraft found in General Aviation and fewer people being involved in accidents. Regulation in Australia has also failed to align with regulations in other jurisdictions, making it difficult for Australian pilots to operate overseas.”

Senator Patrick said, “This disproportionate regulatory burden is being imposed in circumstances where costs in the industry are skyrocketing. Training, fuel, insurance, aircraft maintenance and security costs have all risen, along with airport access charges. It’s a crushing load for the industry”.

“Numerous reviews and inquiries have found CASA regulations to be over-the-top. A 2013 Aviation Safety Regulation Review found them to be overly legalistic, difficult to understand and too focused on punitive outcome. A 2018 study by Deloitte Access Economics found that the regulatory burdens have driven people away from the sector. A recent Senate Inquiry into General Aviation, chaired by Nationals senator Susan McDonald, was scathing of CASA and its over-regulation”.

Senator Patrick said, “After the overzealous grounding of a transplant air service by CASA in 2018 and a full scale and completely unnecessary attack on Angel Flight the Parliament acted with a 2019 Civil Aviation Amendment Bill that sought to ensure that, in developing and promulgating aviation safety standards, CASA considers the economic and cost impact on individuals, businesses and the community and to take into account the differing risks associated with different industry sectors, such as General Aviation.”

“Since that Bill passed, CASA has basically done nothing. I accept that the recently appointed CEO, Ms Pip Spence, has started to move things a little, but sadly she’s flying around in the bureaucratic equivalent of a Tiger Moth when she needs to be in a strike-fighter jet fully armed with regulatory smashing bombs.”

“Her nutcracker approach doesn’t seem to have cracked the over-regulation walnut so it’s time to reach for the sledgehammer.”

If re-elected Senator Patrick will introduce the necessary sledgehammer in the form of the Civil Aviation (Regulation Transition Review). This Bill will require the Minister to conduct an independent review to examine how US Federal Aviation Authority regulations can be translated into the Australian context. The FAA regulatory regime offers a thorough but less burdensome regime to ensure safe and economically viable General Aviation operations. The review would not be tasked to re-invent the wheel, rather it would examine how the US wheel fits in the Australian context. The review would need to take submissions from stakeholders and its reports, including any interim reports, would have to be tabled in the Parliament.”

“The outcome of the independent review would be the basis for a further Civil Aviation (Adaptation of FAA Regulations) Bill that will kill off CASA’s General Aviation killing regulations and see a broom put through the Authority.”

“CASA’s regulatory impositions has been a systemic death by a thousand cuts for General Aviation. The industry has sent out a Mayday call and I’m going to respond to it.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).