Feedback to CASA's proposal to adopt international maintenance regulations for small general aviation aircraft has shown overwhelming support for the USA's Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR).
The new regulation proposal was announced at the Australian General Aviation Alliance (AGAA) summit in Wagga Wagga last July by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and is intended to simplify maintenance rules for small aircraft involved in private, airwork and non-passenger charter operations.
According to CASA data released yesterday, 78% of respondents to the proposal preferred the FARs over New Zealand, Canadian or European regulations.
"All respondents identified issues with the existing regulations and indicated support for change to a simpler, more understandable, set of rules," CASA has said.
"Of the 63 industry respondents who indicated a preference for an international rule set, 49 respondents (78%) preferred the United States' regulations and seven respondents (11%) stated a preference for the New Zealand regulations (which are broadly based on the American approach).
"Twenty-one respondents (28%) also outlined concerns with aircraft engineer licenses and rating."
Feedback came from a large cross-section of the GA community, including private operators, AOC holders, engineers, associations and type groups.
"Industry is stuck in between three different regulatory system[s], none of which are harmonised globally," said Ken Cannane, Executive Director of Aircraft Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA).
"The costs of over regulation and red tape is doing major damage to industry. Many businesses have already succumbed to the current system that lacks definition between CASA functions and requirements and the responsibilities of industry participants.
"The move to adopt the FAR system for GA that industry has demanded since mid-1990s is still the aim of AMROBA and its members. AMROBA has provided many comparison documents to CASA that demonstrates the FAR system will lower costs to GA but improve safety by adopting enhanced safety standards."
Howard Hobbs, President of the Australian Mooney Pilots Association (AMPA), said that following the US system would clarify the responsibiliy of aircraft owners when it came to maintenance requirements.
"Adopting FAA regulations for private GA aircraft in Australia would eliminate much of the confusion that currently exists around what maintenance is, and is not, mandatory under Australian regulations," Hobbs said.
"Under FAA regulations, it is clear that owners are required to maintain their aircraft in accordance with the type certificate and the flight manual (the version that applied when the aircraft came into service) and to carry out any ADs applicable to that aircraft. Private owners in the USA are not required to other manufacturer recommendations unless they become subject to an AD."
Whilst generally supporting the FAR system, Mike Higgins from the Regional Aviation Association noted that simply adopting the FARs could spell the end of the Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) in Australia.
"The FAR rules in Part 43 are all the scattered regulations, instruments, CAOs and other means used by CASA to state who and what is to be done. The Operations FAR parts detail when an approved AMO is required. The FAR fixed-based maintenance organisations are our approved CAR 30 GA maintenance organisation.
"Unless you want GA maintenance to collapse by deleting AMOs, we should adopt the FARs maintenance and maintain a CAR 30 GA aspects-only AMOs.
"Adoption of the FAR based regulations, including introducing the Inspection Authorisation is highly beneficial to GA. The FAR terminology is compatible with flight and technical documents promulgated by US manufacturers."
CASA will now hand the feedback over to a Technical Working Group appointed by the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) to firm up a new policy.
More information including some published feedback is on the CASA consultation hub.