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CASA Briefing Newsletter - March 2019

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From CEO and Director of Aviation Safety, Shane Carmody

I am sure everyone is aware of the issues relating to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following the two fatal accidents in the last six months. In the aftermath of the most recent accident in Ethiopia regulators around the globe were faced with serious questions to consider. At the heart of the questions was a simple proposition: in the absence of data confirming the cause of the Ethiopian accident was it safe to allow the 737 MAX to continue to operate? After consideration of the available information and consultation with colleagues at other regulatory authorities, I made the decision to temporarily suspend 737 MAX operations to or from Australia. Subsequent actions by other countries and authorities including the United Kingdom, European Aviation Safety Agency, Canada, the Federal Aviation Administration and New Zealand confirms to me the right decision was made at the right time to ensure the safety of the travelling public.


This event highlights the fact that regulators such as CASA are faced with challenging decisions to make on safety issues right across the spectrum of aviation operations – from sport and general aviation right up to large air transport. In Australia the approach we take to these challenges is to gather as much relevant data as possible and then make an informed risk assessment in accordance with CASA’s risk assessment processes that guide our activities and decision making. When we make decisions it is likely not everyone will always agree with them, but I hope there is a realisation that when we act it is done for sound and well considered reasons, without fear or favour.


Best wishes
Shane Carmody

Latest news

North Australian helicopter engine initiative

Engine data monitoring systems are the latest initiative in the effort to find solutions to the valve and cylinder problems affecting a number of northern Australian R22 and R44 helicopters. CASA and engine manufacturer Lycoming are working with four north Australian helicopter operators who volunteered to fit the engine monitoring systems. The data collected by the devices will provide detailed information on engine performance to allow a more comprehensive analysis of the issues. There are two distinct but interrelated failure modes affecting engine reliability: intake valve and valve seat wear due to oil coking, and exhaust valve and valve guide wear due to valve guide bell-mouthing. Investigations to date have indicated both issues may be impacted by hot climate engine shutdown/cool down procedures. An updated airworthiness bulletin has been issued on the intake valve issue, which includes advice from Robinson on a hot climate cool down procedure. Lycoming says the intake valve issues are aggravated by ‘hot loading’ and inadequate engine cool down prior to shutdown in ambient temperatures above 38°C.

Read the updated Robinson R22/R44 engine intake valve and valve seat distress airworthiness bulletin.

Pilot resources for radio use

A suite of resources for pilots on correct radio procedures in non-controlled airspace is now available. There are two relevant civil aviation advisory publications, new procedures in the Aeronautical Information Package, a resource booklet and the rules themselves in Civil Aviation Regulation 166. In addition, a CASA video on radio calls in and around non-controlled aerodromes has a wealth of practical information. It is important to be clear on the right radio calls to make in non-controlled airspace following the clarification of the appropriate VHF frequencies to use in the vicinity of aerodromes in class G airspace. In many situations in non-controlled airspace, CASA recommends using the area frequency. However, in the vicinity of uncharted aerodromes, pilots have discretion to use the most appropriate frequency that ensures safe operation. This can be MULTICOM 126.7MHz. The civil aviation advisory publication on operations in the vicinity of non-controlled aerodromes covers hazards, standard traffic circuit procedures and radio broadcasts.

Watch the radio calls video.

Get these resources:

Air traffic control radio call change

Pilots will soon hear a difference in air traffic control radio transmissions. From 23 May 2019, a small change to the way numbers are announced by air traffic control will take effect in Australian airspace. This is in line with International Civil Aviation Organization recommendations. The change will see transmissions of flight levels that include whole hundred numbers made with the word “hundred”, rather than “zero zero”. For example, an instruction to “climb to flight level two zero zero” will become “climb to flight level two hundred”. Pilots should read this back as “flight level two hundred”. Other flight level assignments, headings, wind direction and speed, and runway identifiers will continue to be transmitted by pronouncing each digit separately. Transmissions relating to altitude, cloud height, visibility and runway visual range also remain unchanged. Full details will be published in the May 2019 amendment of the Aeronautical Information Package.

Advice on cabin safety investigations

A wealth of guidance material to support cabin safety investigations is now available. CASA has published two cabin safety bulletins on the important topic. The goal of a cabin safety investigation is to analyse all aspects of an incident, looking at the actions of cabin crew members and passengers, as well as the cabin environment, relevant systems and equipment. The investigation should identify safety deficiencies and lessons learned from the event. Cabin safety investigations may result in the development of recommendations related to operator procedures, fatigue, training, safety and emergency equipment and aircraft systems. As part of a safety management system air operators should have documented policies, procedures and guidelines for conducting accident and incident investigations. One cabin safety bulletin looks at the role of cabin safety investigators, the types of events that should be investigated, crew member interviews, questioning of passengers and fire, smoke or fume events. The second bulletin provides information to assist investigators with information analysis when building a report following a fire, smoke or fumes occurrence.

Go to the cabin safety investigation bulletin and the cabin safety incident analysis bulletin.

Drone milestones highlighted

The remotely piloted aircraft sector is reaching significant milestones. There have now been more than 11,000 remote pilot licences issued by CASA and more than 1500 remotely piloted aircraft operator certificates. This year the number of remotely piloted aircraft operator certificates is likely to double the number of current air operator certificates. These milestones were highlighted in a speech by CASA’s Luke Gumley, the branch manager Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems. Luke told the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems conference in Melbourne the concrete steps CASA is taking to manage and promote the safety of unmanned aviation in Australia. “Integration of remotely piloted aircraft systems into the system of aviation safety, particularly into Australia's airspace, should provide sufficient flexibility for innovation in the remotely piloted aircraft systems industry, without adversely affecting other airspace users, the travelling public, or posing unacceptable risks to people or property on the ground,” Luke said. “The pace of technological change in the remotely piloted aircraft systems sector means CASA must continue to adapt its more traditional approach to aviation safety. Our clients are not only the professionals, but all remotely piloted aircraft systems operators, including recreational flyers and hobbyists. CASA must use a combination of safety information, persuasion, technology and regulation to appropriately manage safety. We balance the need to develop policies and regulations responsively, with appropriate research and consultation. The speed of change and the growing remotely piloted aircraft systems user base necessitates a different way of thinking for a regulator.” The speech highlighted the work CASA is doing on remotely piloted aircraft registration and accreditation, remotely piloted aircraft surveillance and digital transactions.

Read the remotely piloted aircraft speech.

In brief

  • Chief pilots of remotely piloted aircraft training organisations will soon be able to lodge remote pilot licence applications online. This means remotely piloted aircraft training organisations won’t need to scan paper forms and send them to CASA. The remote aircraft licensing process will be managed through CASA’s online portal, with exceptions for students who are also applying for an Aeronautical Radio Operator Certificate or who need to undertake English language proficiency assessments. Remotely piloted aircraft operator certificate renewals that don’t require any variations will also move online in the near future.
  • Have your say on proposed changes to the Part 60 Manual of Standards. Part 60 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations covers flight simulators and synthetic trainers. Proposed changes to the manual of standards relate to the qualification standards and specifications for synthetic training devices. They will replace unique Australian standards with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency. Consultation closes on 10 April 2019.
  • CASA has published a proposed airworthiness directive for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation S-76 series helicopters. The proposed directive relates to the main landing gear positioning rod assembly and expands the applicability of a current directive. The issue is potential landing gear collapse caused by corrosion due to dissimilar metals in the landing gear rod end. Comment by 10 April 2019.
  • The updated and improved safety behaviours kit for pilots is now available. The kit has booklets, videos and worksheets. Order your safety behaviours kit from the online store.
  • An alert has been issued on critical freewheel unit lubrication issues in Bell 206 Jet Ranger and Long Ranger series helicopters. Action should be considered to reduce the possibility of torsional main rotor mast yielding and in-flight separation of the main rotor head from the mast. In an airworthiness bulletin CASA recommends clutch oil filter inspections.
  • Applications for CASA sponsorships opened on Monday 25 March 2019 and will close on Friday 19 April. Organisations applying for sponsorship are required to complete a safety promotion sponsorship application form. The sponsorship program is open to community and not-for-profit organisations that promote and raise awareness of aviation safety.

Seventeen pilot safety seminars

Pilots in 17 regional locations around Australia have the chance to attend an AvSafety seminar in April 2019. The seminars will help pilots develop skills in three key areas – communication, situational awareness and threat and error management. A practical scenario will be used to explain the concepts of threat and error management. Pilots will work through relevant defensive flying behaviours aimed at addressing human factors challenges encountered in single pilot operations. Pilots will be given special cards with key information on communication, situational awareness and threat and error management. The cards can be kept in a new AvSafety resource folder to build a library of critical safety information. Cards and folders are only available to people who attend AvSafety seminars. Extracts from the new plain English guide to the Part 91 operating and flight rules will be available for review and comment.

In April 2019 seminars are being held at:

  • Port Hedland*
  • Ballina
  • Lismore
  • Grafton
  • Karratha*
  • Mudgee
  • Hamilton Island
  • Dubbo
  • Kununurra
  • Airlie Beach
  • Broome
  • Mackay
  • Jabiru
  • Maitland
  • Clifton
  • Warracknabeal
  • Gove

Book a place at a pilot safety seminar. *Subject to cyclone recovery.

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