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Fri, Feb 27, 2004

Flying Safe Down Under

Australia's Improved Air Safety Enforcement

Australia’s aviation industry is now subject to a new set of procedures to enforce air safety. The government says new procedures give the Civil Aviation Safety Authority(CASA) a more balanced set of enforcement tools, as well as opening up enforcement decisions to greater scrutiny by the courts and tribunals.

Changes to enforcement came into effect this week, creating, what CASA considers, a fairer and more transparent system for ensuring air operators, maintenance organizations and other people in the aviation industry comply with safety rules. CASA’s chief executive officer, Bruce Byron, says the new system will ensure the punishment fits the crime.

“The reforms provide an appropriate balance between enhancing natural justice and maintaining CASA’s powers to take action on safety breaches,” Byron said. “They will enable CASA to focus its limited resources on incidents which have significant safety implications.”

The key changes are:

  • A demerit points scheme for breaches of regulations
  • Enforceable voluntary undertakings to ensure compliance with regulations
  • Protection for self-reporting of inadvertent breaches
  • Automatic stays of most suspension and cancellation decisions pending an Administrative Appeals Tribunal review
  • Federal Court review of CASA decisions to suspend an authorization in cases of serious and imminent risk to air safety.

Byron says the new system means there will be a measured response by CASA to minor breaches of the safety regulations.

“Prosecution or the suspension or cancellation of certificates or licenses should be reserved for serious safety problems. Less serious regulatory breaches can now be dealt with using these new enforcement tools. But people who deliberately operate outside the rules or who put the lives of fare-paying passengers at risk should be prosecuted and -- if necessary -- removed from the aviation industry.”

FMI: www.casa.gov.au/hotopics/action/enforceQA.htm

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