So many problems, so little time would be a reasonable summary of the details of the promised independent review of Aviation Safety Regulation announced today by deputy PM and Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss.

With a reporting deadline in May next year, it has what read as highly relevant points of interest, including some directly relevant to the Pel-Air crash investigation and operator oversight fiasco.

Truss has named David Forsyth chair of Safeskies and former chair of AirServices Australia as Chair of the review panel.

The media statement and the objectives for the review and the outcomes it is charged with delivering are as follows.

In launching the review, Mr Truss said aviation activity is expected to double in the next twenty years. The industry is a vital part of our economy and we must ensure it is supported by a regulatory system that delivers the highest levels of safety.

“Now is the right time to reassess how our safety regulatory system is placed in dealing with this dynamic and evolving sector. The independent review reinforces the Government’s commitment to maintaining safety as the highest priority in aviation.

“The review will be strategic in nature. It is about whether we are on the right track to meet future challenges and respond to growing demand in aviation.”

The review is to be undertaken by a panel of leading aviation safety experts and will benchmark Australia’s safety regulation against other leading countries.

Mr David Forsyth AM, will Chair the review panel. Mr Forsyth is a prominent figure in Australian aviation. He is the chair of Safeskies Australia, former chair of Airservices Australia and has over 30 years of experience in safety management and aviation business.

Mr Forsyth will be joined by Mr Don Spruston, former Director General of Civil Aviation at Transport Canada and former Director General of the International Business Aviation Council, and by Mr Roger Whitefield, former Head of Safety at British Airways, former safety adviser to Qantas and former United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority board member.

The panel will also be supported, as required, by specialist advisers. Mr Truss has appointed Phillip Reiss to take particular responsibility to ensure that the concerns of general aviation and regional operators are well aired.

Mr Truss indicated his confidence that the breadth and depth of expertise secured to conduct this review will ensure that a comprehensive and balanced perspective is reflected in the panel’s findings.

Over the coming months, the review panel will undertake extensive industry and public consultation. Further details, including how to make a submission, will be available from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s website at:www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/asrr.

The review panel will provide its report to the Deputy Prime Minister in May 2014.

Aviation Safety Regulation Review
Terms of Reference

Objectives

The principal objectives of the review are to investigate:
•             the structures, effectiveness and processes of all agencies involved in aviation safety;
•             the relationship and interaction of those agencies with each other, as well as with the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (Infrastructure);
•             the outcomes and direction of the regulatory reform process being undertaken by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA);
•             the suitability of Australia’s aviation safety related regulations when benchmarked against comparable overseas jurisdictions; and
•             any other safety related matters.

Outcomes

The report of the review will:
•             examine and make recommendations as required on the aviation safety roles of CASA and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and other agencies as appropriate;
•             outline and identify any areas for improvement in the current interaction and relationships between CASA and the ATSB, as well as other agencies and Infrastructure;
•             examine and make recommendations as required on the appointment process and criteria applied for key aviation safety roles within CASA and the ATSB;
•             examine the current processes by which CASA develops, consults on and finalises changes to aviation safety regulations and other legislative instruments (such as civil aviation orders) and make any proposals for improving these processes such that new regulations are best practice in safe operations for each relevant sector of the aviation industry;
•             review the implementation of the current aviation safety regulatory reform programme and assess the effectiveness of the planning and implementation of regulatory changes, including cost impacts on industry;
•             examine and make recommendations on options for improving future aviation safety regulatory reform having regard to international experience and stakeholder views, and the Government’s objective of reducing the cost of regulation to business;
•             provide advice to Government on priorities for future regulatory development and implementation strategies; and
•             provide advice to Government on options for improving oversight and enforcement of aviation regulations, including rights of review.

Consultation

The review will seek the views of the CASA Board and senior management and staff, and the ATSB Commission and senior management and staff in developing its advice to Government on the review’s objectives, and consult closely with:
–              international, domestic, regional, general aviation, sport and recreational aircraft and maintenance operators and organisations;
–              federal, regional and local airport operators;
–              other relevant Government agencies including Infrastructure, Airservices Australia, the Department of Defence and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC); and
–              other industry and public stakeholders.

In the supporting background material the statement says, among many other things:

Earlier this year a Senate report into Aviation Accident Investigations highlighted a range of issues with the regulation and governance of aviation safety within Australia.

It is therefore timely to consider future aviation safety structures and regulatory development approaches and processes in Australia by evaluating the effectiveness of the current approach, looking at international experience and possible options for future improvements and bearing in mind the commitment of the Australian Government to reduce the burden of regulation on the economy.

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