Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) CEO Mike Higgins has said that CASA is being shackled by the Civil Aviation Act 1988, which prevents it from implementing risk-based regulation for general aviation.
Higgins made the claims in the RAAA's submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport (RRAT) inquiry into the general aviation industry.
According to Higgins, there are "certain elements" in the current version of the Act that is preventing CASA from moving to risk-based regulation from the prescriptive rules currently applied.
"Rather than be bound by the commercial or hire-or-reward imperatives, a fresh look at a genuine risk-based approach is required," Higgins says. "The current approach may be appropriate for the large end of the sector; however, this simplistic approach is not allowing the smaller end of the sector to flourish as it should ..."
Higgins believes that the issue has been simmering for decades with no resolution and that the time to tackle it head on is now.
"Attempting the adoption and application of a risk-based philosophy to regulatory development has frustrated CASA and its predecessors for decades," he says. "Governments of both persuasions have been struggling with this concept since 1986 and the time has come to grasp the nettle and resolve the legacy issues embedded in the traditional approach to the regulation of general aviation."
Higgins points out that several CASA documents such as the minister's Statement of Expectations and the CASA Regulatory Philosophy already call for a risk-based approach and a reappraisal of how it functioned would benefit both general aviation and the regulator.
"The fresh perspective will give traction to the various CASA publications which espouse a risk-based and outcomes-focused philosophy. This will free up both industry and CASA resources from the burden of less than effective administration and cost which has been the bane of the smaller end of the industry for decades."
The full RAAA submission is available from the senate inquiry website.