The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) announced today that it will implement restrictions on pilots that fly for community service organisations such as Angel Flight.
According to the announcement, the new restrictions will make community service flights–defined as those carrying people to non-urgent medical appointments–safer.
“Most community service flights are conducted by a single pilot in a small aircraft, flying long distances from regional and remote towns to the cities, carrying people with serious medical conditions,” CASA CEO Shane Carmody said.
“This puts a lot of responsibility and sometimes considerable pressure on the pilot. Many of these pilots hold only a private pilot licence.
“It is only fair to the patients and carers using community service flights to ensure there are appropriate safety standards that go beyond those required for everyday private flying."
Among the new restrictions to be applied to CSFs are:
- private pilots cannot fly CSFs unless they have 400 hours total time with at least 250 hour in command
- multi-engine aircraft cannot be used on CSFs unless the pilot has 25 hours time on type
- private pilot's cannot fly CSFs if they hold a CASA Basic Class 2 medical only
- VFR pilots cannot fly CSFs unless they have 10 hours on type
- IFR pilots cannot fly CSFs unless they have 20 hours time on type
- no pilot can fly a CSF unless they have made at least one landing in the type of aircraft in the previous 30 days.
CASA has also demanded that pilots on CSFs put in flight plans and mark their logbooks with CSFs.
Submissions to CASA on the new rules were mixed, with several people opposing any restrictions at all.
"The proposed legislation is a serious impost on the ability of community service flights to operate, and none of the new rules have been backed up by evidence suggesting the need for them, nor does CASA follow it’s own or legally required practices in drafting and introducing these rules without proper risk analysis or industry consultation," said wwll-known GA advocate Baz Scheffers.
"To imply that a one-hour flight by a CASA licensed pilot flying a CASA certified aircraft maintained to CASA’s requirements by a CASA licensed engineer is a significantly, if any, greater risk than driving 8 hours each way in a single day on what are Australia’s most dangerous roads, should call into question the entirety of all legislation governing private operations."
Aviator and entreprenuer Simon Hackett thought the new regulations would have no impact on the safety of a CSF flight.
"The regulation would have no material benefit to the operational safety of the flights concerned. The regulation is likely to create a false impression in the community about what would actually be achieved through its implementation.
"A CSF is a private flight (and would remain a private flight). Private flights operate under rules and requirements that are long established, that work well, and that seem reasonably well harmonised with international best practice.
"There is no evidence and no safety case provided that would explain why two very specific instances of two specific precursors (namely how the pilot met the passenger, and why the passenger is traveling), have any causal relationship with increased operational flight risk, as compared to any other private flight conducted for any other purpose involving people who met in any other way."
Conversely, the Australian Federation of Airline Pilots (AFAP) largely supported the proposals, but went on to state that they felt the restrictions didn't go far enough.
"We recognise that there may be resistance to some of these proposed changes but generally believe that they are not in any way draconian or likely to cause undermining of the viability of CSFs or that sick and disadvantaged Australians would then be without essential transport for their medical needs," the AFAP submission said.
"The AFAP generally supports the introduction of some baseline minimum flight crew licensing and experience requirements however we believe this approach, to addressing the shortcomings of a lack of a systems approach to managing the risk, is not entirely suited for meeting the problem which it seeks to address. Lack of Safety Systems
"The real core of the problem isn’t related to the individual minimum limits and conditions for pilots and maintenance procedures (solely). The core of the problem is that there is a total lack of any organisational structure requirements to manage the safety risks as a safety systems problem."
Angel Flight CEO Majorie Pagani has previously slammed the new proposals, calling into questions CASA's legal ability to control who a qualified PPL can and can't carry in an aircraft based on health and geographic location.
More information on the proposals including the published submissions is on the CASA website.