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CASA Briefing newsletter - October 2011


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October 2011


From the Director of Aviation Safety


John McCormick


This month I released the terms of reference for the newly established General Aviation Task Force. The document sets out clearly how the task force will operate and its role within the overall operations of CASA. In general, the key role of the task force is to engage with people involved in general aviation to get their views on how CASA regulates aspects of various general aviation operations. The approach we will take to this is framed by a set of questions. We will be asking:


  • What things people in general aviation would like to see done differently
  • The way people believe these things should be done
  • Why people believe in the approach they propose
  • Why people believe CASA should deliver the outcome they propose.



This means people involved in general aviation can expect to see CASA's Peter John, who is heading the task force, out and about talking to as many relevant people as possible about important issues. Initially, we will be focussing on general aviation pilot licensing requirements, the need for an air operator's certificate for certain kinds of aerial work operations, the need for full drug and alcohol management plans for very small general aviation operations and aspects of aerial agriculture operations. Peter John and other CASA staff assigned to work with him will listen to the views of people across general aviation and conduct an analysis of the information they collect. They will then report back on the advantages and disadvantages of the views they have canvassed, presenting reports to me and other relevant decision makers in CASA. The General Aviation Task Force itself will focus on the collection of information and proposals and some preliminary analysis of the information they gather.


I believe the General Aviation Task Force is an important initiative that recognises the significant changes and challenges facing the general aviation sector now and into the future. It does not replace existing avenues and mechanisms used to consult and communicate with the aviation industry, but provides a focussed and streamlined method of gathering information, proposals and ideas. I expect tangible results from the task force that will improve the way general aviation is regulated. Naturally, I cannot promise that every suggestion or every view will be acted on, but we will actively listen and carefully weigh what we hear.


Please read the General Aviation Task Force terms of reference.


Best regards


John F McCormick


Electronic flight bag rules are coming


An important step in the development of standards, rules and guidance material for electronic flight bags has been taken. CASA has set up an electronic flight bag project to co-ordinate work on this rapidly evolving area of aviation. Standards and rules for the approval of the use of electronic flight bags in air transport passenger carrying operations will be set out in Civil Aviation Order 82. Guidance material for the use of electronic flight bags in air transport and other operations will be published in a civil aviation advisory publication. In announcing the project CASA states the paperless cockpit is a reality with the latest technological developments in commercial off the shelf electronic tablets. Devices such as Apple's Ipad, and other similar devices, loaded with purpose designed software are now being offered to the aviation industry for use by pilots as portable electronic flight bags.


To ensure Australia's standards and rules for electronic flight bags are in line with international best practice, CASA is part of an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) working group on the issue. This group is developing high-level standards and recommended practices, as well as guidance material, covering the basic requirements for issuing approvals for electronic flight bags. The group has identified six key issues that must be addressed in the new standards and practices. These are: keeping pace with evolving technology, data security and corruption risks, standardisation of applications, software assurance, the transition from paper to electronic databases and information overload. The ICAO working group is aiming to complete its work by the middle of 2012.


Find out more about the electronic flight bag project.


Pilots to tell CASA about information needs


CASA is striving to find better ways to communicate safety information to Australian pilots. We want to make sure all pilots get the right information in the right ways. To do this market research has been commissioned by CASA's Safety Promotion branch to find out if and how pilots use new information technologies and how they like to get their information on-line. A range of qualitative and quantitative research methods will be used to gather this information, including on-line surveys and face-to-face feedback sessions. Questions and discussions will focus on how pilots use smart phones, other digital devices and computers. Pilots from across the nation will also be asked their preferences for the way in which they receive safety information. The findings will be used to review and develop current and future safety promotion products and explore new media avenues for the distribution of aviation safety information. The communications research will get underway before the end of 2011 and CASA hopes as many pilots as possible will take part. To maximise the effectiveness and accuracy of the research findings it will be very important for pilots across all sectors of aviation operations to participate. Vivid Research, a respected market research company, will conduct this research and information on how pilots can take part will be posted on the CASA web site soon.


Campaign warns about dangerous goods


A new campaign has been launched to warn the travelling public and people in the aviation industry about the risks of dangerous goods. Posters and a brochure have been developed, with the theme "If in doubt, ask". So far CASA has distributed 60,000 dangerous goods brochures and 6000 posters. The brochures have been sent to all charter operators, who will hand them out to passengers. An electronic version of the brochure is being provided to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, whose members will give them to people booking flights. Posters have been distributed to all holders of air operator's certificates, as well as certified and registered aerodromes. Advertisements have also been placed on major travel web sites and in magazines such as airline in-flight publications. Travellers are told to read the label on any household items they plan to take on an aircraft and if there is a hazardous symbol on the label to check if the item is safe. The new brochure lists 15 items and substances that must not be taken on to aircraft. There is a focus on lithium batteries which have the potential to catch on fire if not packed and carried properly, with one poster dedicated to the batteries.


The dangerous goods brochure can be ordered through CASA's on-line store.


Posters are also available at the on-line store.


Safety seminar registration made easy


There is a new, easy-to-use on-line registration system for the popular AvSafety seminars. Registration for the seminars is now done through CASA's web site, instead of with the local aero or flying club. This makes it easier for the local clubs to host the AvSafety seminars and means CASA can keep track of numbers for catering and event organisation purposes. To register for a seminar all people have to do is go to the CASA web site and fill in a simple form. The form asks for your name, email address and contact phone number. All the information about each AvSafety seminar is on the web site, including the topics to be discussed, the address of the venue, date and time and deadline for registration. After registering you simply print out a ticket with a barcode that is scanned when you arrive at the venue. During November there are 14 AvSafety seminars scheduled in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. Topics covered at the seminars will include pre-flight decision making, effective communications, glass cockpits, safety management, weather to fly and fuel related accidents and incidents.


Locate the AvSafety seminar in your area and register now.


Keeping aircraft safe from wildlife


New advice for the aviation industry on the management of wildlife hazards at aerodromes is now available. With more than 1000 bird strikes alone each year in Australia, wildlife poses a significant hazard to aviation safety. Research shows most wildlife strikes happen at or near aerodromes and many damage aircraft, or flights are delayed while damage inspections take place. Operators of certified aerodromes are required to monitor and record the presence of wildlife and develop a wildlife hazard management plan where needed. Registered aerodromes are also required to monitor wildlife and the development of a hazard plan is recommended where appropriate. Although there is no requirement for monitoring at other aerodromes, CASA recommends wildlife hazards be assessed and appropriate action taken to manage any risks at all aerodromes. In a new advisory circular CASA says individual species should be identified and prioritised in order of risk. Data on aircraft strikes should also be collected. Appropriate wildlife controls include pre-emptive actions such as fencing, removing food and habitat, appropriate landscaping and right plant selection. Active wildlife treatments include scaring tactics such as horns, gas cannons and pyrotechnics, the simulation of threats and capture or culling. The new advisory circular also sets out the reporting requirements for wildlife hazards.


Read the wildlife hazard management advisory circular.


Need to weld aircraft? You need this advice.


Updated advice is now available for people and organisations that carry out welding during the maintenance of aircraft. The revised civil aviation advisory publication provides information on how to apply for and renew an aircraft welding authority. It is the first time this advisory publication has been updated since it was published in 1994. The revised advice incorporates contemporary welding standards, removes references to redundant standards and adds technical standards for braze welding. It also aligns Australian welding requirements with those in the United States and Europe. Anyone carrying out welding on an aircraft must hold a welding authority issued under the Civil Aviation Regulations. This is because welding is a class of maintenance which is not covered by the aircraft maintenance engineers licensing structure. Welding authorities are issued for two years, with applicants having to satisfy CASA's training and competency requirements. To gain a welding authority you must successfully complete a recognised course that provides practical and theoretical training and pass a test set by CASA. Renewing a welding authority requires the successful completion of examinations. The revised advisory publication covers how to apply for a welding authority, the obligations of an authority holder, maintaining standards, who can apply to conduct authorised exams and the conduct of welding exams.


Read the aircraft manual welding advisory publication.


Be aware of Cessna safety issues


Two warnings have been issued to the owners and operators of a range of Cessna aircraft in CASA airworthiness bulletins. One warning is for Cessna 200 series aircraft, covering the failure of horizontal stabilisers. The other applies to Cessna 300 and 400 series aircraft and relates to main landing gear torque links. A recent incident in a Cessna 210N has prompted the reissuing of an airworthiness bulletin that highlights the need to carry out regular inspections for critical flaws in primary aircraft structures. The Cessna airworthiness program sets out inspection requirements at regular intervals for 200 series aircraft, however, some owners and operators may not be following this program. CASA recommends that maintenance schedules for these aircraft are reviewed to ensure all manufacturers data is in the maintenance schedule or aircraft log book statement. Maintainers are told in the airworthiness bulletin they should pay particular attention to the spar and attachments on Cessna 210 horizontal stabilisers.


On Cessna 300 and 400 series aircraft incorrect washers have been used on some main landing gear assemblies. This can result in the collapse of the undercarriage, causing serious damage to the aircraft. CASA recommends that all registered operators of this series of aircraft carry out three steps. They should inspect the main landing gear for the correct part number and size washers on the outer positions of the landing gear torque link, replace any incorrect washers and report all defects to CASA through the service defect reporting system.


Find out more about the Cessna 200 series horizontal stabiliser problems.


Get details of the Cessna 300 and 400 series landing gear issues.


Melbourne and Darwin airspace studies


A study of the airspace within 45 nautical miles of Melbourne aerodrome has made ten recommendations. The study, carried out by CASA's Office of Airspace Regulation, looked at airspace classifications and related issues. Within 45 nautical miles of Melbourne aerodrome there are three other major aerodromes – Avalon, Essendon and Moorabbin – and 27 smaller aerodromes. Airspace users and other stakeholders raised a wide range of issues during interviews, in questionnaires and at forums. These included restrictions on visual flight rules aircraft accessing controlled airspace, lack of co-ordination between the Moorabbin tower and Melbourne terminal control unit, different air traffic services being delivered in the Avalon and Moorabbin class D airspace, the Moorabbin flying training area no longer being large enough and airspace infringements throughout the Melbourne area. The study recommends a number of actions to address the issues raised by airspace users. This includes flying schools talking to Airservices Australia about increasing access to controlled airspace, opportunities for Airservices to co-ordinate departures from Moorabbin and Melbourne, investigating the claim class D air traffic services are not consistent and dis-establishing the Moorabbin flying training areas. It is also recommended an educational awareness program for flying in the Melbourne basin be developed.


The findings of a study into the airspace above Darwin aerodrome have also been completed. This study noted that unlike other capital city aerodromes Darwin is also the regional general aviation hub, creating a unique and complex mix of traffic. Issues raised during consultation with airspace users and other stakeholders included air traffic control delaying traffic flow and issuing untimely instructions, the design of a number of approaches, local procedures, tracking restrictions around military exercises and the steepness of control area steps. Three recommendations are made – Darwin air traffic control to look at concerns about air traffic services, stakeholders to liaise with air traffic control about instrument approach design and procedures and the Office of Airspace Regulation to determine if the control area step heights are appropriate.


Read the Melbourne airspace report.


Read the Darwin airspace report.


R44 exhaust system warning


Operators and maintainers of Robinson 44 helicopters are being warned in a new airworthiness bulletin of the dangers of engine exhaust system failures. CASA has received a number of reports of collapsed R44 engine exhaust mufflers inside the cabin heater shroud, as well as severely burnt cabin heating hoses. These failures pose a danger because if cabin heating is selected when a muffler has collapsed inside the heater shroud, carbon monoxide can enter the cabin putting the pilot at risk of incapacitation. Investigations of the muffler failures have found a number of contributing factors. These include magneto timing problems, mixture equipment malfunctions and incorrect exhaust muffler cooling rigging. A new airworthiness bulletin provides details about how to address these three issues. CASA also points out the Robinson Helicopter Company considers the installation of a carbon monoxide detector in the R44 cabin to be mandatory because engine exhaust gases can enter the cabin in certain circumstances even if the exhaust system is working properly. R44 helicopters that were not equipped with a detector must be retrofitted.


Find out more about R44 engine exhaust issues.


Aviation history buffs head to Melbourne


If you're keen on aviation history, Melbourne is the place to be on Saturday 12 November 2011. A new special exhibition is being opened on the day at the Airways Museum at Essendon Airport. The exhibition looks at Australian civil aircraft between World War I and World War II. This exhibition features rare photographs from the Len Dobbin collection dating from the early 1920s through to the late 1930s. The Airways Museum open day will also feature talks by renowned air safety writer Macarthur Job and aviation historian Geoff Goodall. Historic films from the Civil Aviation Historical Society archives will be shown throughout the day. Entry to the Museum is by gold coin donation and free tea and coffee is available throughout the day. On Friday 28 November 2011, a new book by Dr Peter Ewer – Storm Over Kokoda – will be launched at the Airways Museum. The Museum opens at 6:30pm for the book launch.


Find out more about the events at Airways Museum.



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