Mark Skidmore in his RAAF days, photo courtesy Australian Aviation
Mark Skidmore in his RAAF days, photo Australian Aviation

Retired RAAF Air Vice-Marshal Mark Skidmore has suddenly resigned from the hot seat at CASA as its director of air safety after less than two years in the role.

This statement has just been posted by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority:

The Chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Mr Jeff Boyd, today announced the resignation of the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Aviation Safety Mr Mark Skidmore AM.
Mr Skidmore joined CASA in January 2015 and has led the transformation of the safety authority in line with the government’s response to the Aviation Safety Regulatory Review (ASRR).
Since his appointment CASA has undergone a period of significant change with a major restructure of the organisation, the appointment of a new executive leadership team and a renewed focus on stakeholder engagement and collaboration to deliver aviation safety outcomes.
Mr Boyd and the Board thanked Mr Skidmore for his contribution to CASA and the Australian aviation industry.
“Mark has made an enormous and valued contribution to CASA and to aviation safety in this country’ Mr Boyd said.
‘This has included a number of significant improvements including restructuring the organisation, the development and implementation of CASA’s new regulatory philosophy and the implementation of just culture throughout the organisation. This has contributed positively to the way aviation regulations are developed and implemented in consultation with the aviation industry”.
Mr Skidmore cited personal reasons for his decision including wanting to explore a number of new opportunities.
“I have decided the time is right for me to make this move. I came on board at CASA to lead the organisation through a period of significant and difficult change and I am very proud of what we have achieved through the transformation program. We have been able to reshape the way CASA operates and delivers its services in a positive way.’ Mr Skidmore said.
‘It is an appropriate time for me to hand over the leadership as CASA moves through the next phase of its improvement program” he said.
Mr Skidmore will continue in the role until October so as to allow for a smooth leadership transition.
The Board is considering interim acting arrangements which will be announced shortly.  A thorough domestic and international recruitment process to select a new CEO will now commence. This process is expected to take six to nine months.

When he was appointed Plane Talking made some observations about his role and the consequences that might flow from an untimely departure, which might prove relevant to today’s not completely surprising development.

The reform process at CASA has to many stakeholders in the industry been incredibly slow and obtuse, and often fiercely resisted from within the organisation.

Mr Skidmore leaves at a time when over regulation has been argued quite strongly to have contributed to an implosion in general aviation activity in Australia, cutting away the bottom of the food chain when it comes to the development of a safe and experienced industry at precisely the time the major airlines are seeing serious shortages of skilled pilots and competent engineers put in doubt future growth.

It’s a problem not restricted to Australia either, but one that has become acutely apparent in this country in recent months.

Mr Skidmore leaves CASA in disarray over such festering issues as the substandard and now repudiated investigation of the Pel-Air crash of 2009 and critical issues with inappropriate or less than safe regulation involving the amount of fuel needed to be carried by Australian domestic airliners and astonishing lapses in its oversight of safety standards on matters like the Virgin Australia ATR scandal.

This involved a Virgin aircraft flying with dangerous damage to its tail for 13 sectors without the safety threat being recognised or remedied.

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