• CASA Director of Aviation Safety Pip Spence at her desk in Aviation House, Canberra. (Steve Hitchen)
    CASA Director of Aviation Safety Pip Spence at her desk in Aviation House, Canberra. (Steve Hitchen)

CASA Director of Aviation Safety and CEO Pip Spence has pointed to CASR Part 139 Aerodromes as an example of ongoing regulatory reform.

The new regulations are now in force and CASA said that all registered aerodromes that were expected to transition to the new rules had done so by the 13 May deadline.

Speaking at the Australian Airports Association (AAA) OPS SWAP forum in Sydney last week, Spence said that Part 139 had addressed several issues.

"We all knew that Part 139 needed review and that it failed to reflect not just the operating requirements of new generation aircraft, but significant advances in technology and changes to aerodrome operations," she told the forum.

"Our aim was to simplify and clarify the requirements to reduce the regulatory burden and costs on aerodromes while at the same time improving safety.

"One key change was to make certificates scalable to reflect the size and frequency of operations at an aerodrome because we knew there wasn’t one size that fitted all.

"The changes allow for far more flexibility for aerodromes in terms of outcome-based legislation."

Spence said the Part 139 changes were an example of the wider reform program CASA is undertaking that involves not only dealing with industry issues, but also streamlining the structure of the regulator.

She also reinforced CASA's committment to the General Aviation Workplan demanded by the previous government and published in May this year.

"We are committed to improving transparency, communicating our intentions in a timely manner and explaining ourselves clearly," she told the AAA forum.

"We want to work with industry to reduce complexity while making sure Australia remains one of the safest aviation environments in the world.

"In addition to reforms on Part 139, our new flight operations regulations came into effect in December and we recently released our General Aviation Workplan.

"Our General Aviation Workplan is an important initiative that largely aims to reduce the regulatory burden for private and recreational aviation users, many of them your users.

"We are continually working to improve our new website and earlier last month we responded to feedback by releasing a new ‘mega-menu’ designed to improve navigation and make content easier to discover.

"We’ve beefed up staffing at our Client Service Centre to deal with increased demand after the opening of the COVID floodgates produced a deluge of requests.

"You’ll also recall the Guidance Delivery centre was set up to provide a nationally consistent response to queries and prevent the potential for confusion when people received differing answers from various parts of CASA.

"This is consistent with our push to break down the silos at CASA to allow it to function better as a national organisation.

"While there have been some teething problems, we believe this national model will ultimately facilitate clearer and better communication with you and other industry sectors."

Spence said that CASA was also looking at being proactive when it came to new innovation and technology such as drones and urban mobility vehicles, and noted that airports would have a role to play in establishing vertiports for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

" ... the challenge for CASA, and our colleagues at Airservices Australia, is to design and implement airspace around airports than can give everyone fair access to the skies," Spence said.

"The assumption is that eVTOL aircraft will initially be piloted but we can already see long-term research underway to make them remotely piloted and, eventually, autonomous.

"There will be no easy answers but as the old Chinese proverb says: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

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