Jun 3, 2011

CASA slapped down again for ‘persecuting’ lawful aviation

Plane Talking claims no credit for the following story, written by Paul Phelan and appearing recently in Aviation A

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Plane Talking claims no credit for the following story, written by Paul Phelan and appearing recently in Aviation Advertiser.

The article is about how the safety regulator’s efforts to frame a celebrated wilderness photographer and helicopter pilot over alleged maintenance offences came undone.

It is being reproduced here because that publication isn’t on the radar of readers locked on the activities of major airlines and their regulation, or lack thereof.

Richard Green, the subject of the story, contacted us because of our earlier quizzical look at issues that critics see with CASA’s pursuit, at long last, of a completely new set of fundamental aviation regulations known as Part 91.

We think that producing a paperback sized package of prescriptive and potentially safety impinging measures to deal with the actions of pilots in an emergency that the FAA handles successfully with three paragraphs raising some pretty important questions about CASA’s approach to the industry from general aviation right up to Qantas and Virgin Australia.  We could be wrong of course, but its a discussion that ought to take place.

Here is the Aviation Advertiser story as provided by Richard Green.

Postcript: Richard Green clearly deserves an apology from CASA, and the public deserve some accountability for its disproportionate and often flawed pursuit of individual private pilots over regulatory matters, especially when it seems incapable of understanding manufacturer advice.

He has shared with us his most recent letter to the CEO of CASA, John McCormick.

Dear Mr McCormick

I refer to our earlier correspondence and our telephone conversation of nearly a year ago.  If you recall you made it quite clear that in your opinion I had operated my helicopter dangerously, and that I most certainly should not have the authority to conduct maintenance work on it.

The Senate Estimates Committee has taken some interest in these matters, and for your information I have attached a copy of a recent press article that summarises the outcome of the AAT’s detailed investigation.

After careful consideration Mike Hart had recommended an apology from CASA in relation to the former matter which, I am sure you will remember, you refused to issue. As you will be able to see from the article, perhaps an additional second apology from CASA is now in order.

What is far more important than apologies is the way in which CASA directs its efforts and public resources. CASA’s mandate is essentially to ensure safety for the travelling public.  Is it really good allocation of these resources to expend perhaps a half a million dollars of taxpayers’ funds chasing after one private pilot, who flies only about 100 hours a year and almost exclusively in wilderness areas?

I look forward to hearing your views.

Richard Green


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3 thoughts on “CASA slapped down again for ‘persecuting’ lawful aviation

  1. Geoff

    Hey Ben,
    Your previous CASA stories were of neglect, failing to chase the big boys.
    Now we have story of over-zealous pursuit of the small players.

    Is there a link?

    Was this also not the situation when Dick Smith wrote “Two Years in the Aviation Hall of Doom”? Hammer the small stuff but don’t take on the big issues, it might upset the politicians.

    History repeating, deja vu again!


  2. Ben Sandilands


    We’ve reached a place where passenger jet electronic displays and flight bags need not only to show the normal and abnormal situation check-lists, but the CASA regulatory compliance list so that while dealing with the power surge, unsafe gear or ground proximity warning pilots can take time out of the emergency to ensure that all the conditions and associate penalties invented by some micro-minded control freak can be ticked.

    This is gross stupidity. Why we have devised world’s worst or most complex practice in this respect puzzles me. As I’ve suggested elsewhere, it is possible that the senior management at CASA has its hands so full with an ambitious but necessary program of regulatory reform that too much of the actual drafting has fallen into the hands of junior law clerks.

  3. Quizzical

    You are bang on the money.

    If a due diligence was ever conducted on CASA for the manpower devoted to the small side of town versus the big side …..

    More importantly this example of the EC135 demonstrates how CASA issues pronouncements but has actually lost expertise. With the airlines much of the safety and technical expertise resides with them not CASA – but given CASA is a retirement village for ex airline and ex RAAF wallahs (the current boss being bipartisan in that regard) – they are hardly likely to bite the hands that feed.

    We have had this link up previously but it is worth a re-run, again with thanks the the Aviation Advertiser – see if you can answer the question below the photo 🙂

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