Angel Flight is headed back to the courts after CASA sent letters to pilots and the organisation demanding information about community service flights (CSF).
The letters, sent in mid August, told owners their aircraft had been identified as one used for a CSF and demanded copies of the maintenance release and aircraft log books. Pilots were instructed to provide information on the number of flights, passengers, flight rules and aircraft used. Extracts from pilots logbooks were also demanded.
Angel Flight was told they needed to disclose information covering all CSFs conducted under their banner for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, including number of flights, hours flown, operation type and qualifications of the pilots used. Information has also been demanded of aircraft hirers even though there is no legal obligation for owners to record the purpose for which the aircraft was hired out.
According to CASA, the information is needed to conduct a 12-month review into the CSF regulation imposed last year, but Angel Flight believes the letters were issued for an "improper purpose" and the information demanded is outside of CASA's power.
Angel Flight and two other applicants, Owen Crees and Garth England, have applied to the Federal Court seeking a declaration that the requests made by CASA were issued for an improper purpose and are of no effect.
The applicants also want an order that the CASA demands be quashed or set aside, which would relieve them from having to comply with the demands.
In February last year, CASA imposed restrictions on CSFs that target Angel Flight specifically because of the type of mission flown. The restrictions included:
- 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 pilots 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 CSF flight must submit a flight plan and pilots must mark the flight in their logbooks as a CSF.
Angel Flight has since been working through the courts to have the new rules nullified.
A case management hearing on the matter of the letters has been scheduled for 10 September.