• Ayres 600 aerial agricultural aircraft. (Steve Hitchen)
    Ayres 600 aerial agricultural aircraft. (Steve Hitchen)

The peak body of the aerial agriculture industry has given CASA's relationship with general aviation a decent spray in their submission to the Aviation Safety Regulation Review (ASRR).

The Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia (AAAA) has singled-out the regulator's culture as the crux of a poor and deteriorating relationship with industry.

"There has been a complete breakdown in the relationship with industry at the highest levels, an example which has now cascaded throughout almost the entire organisation," the submission reads.

"There are many good people working in CASA who are simply unable to make headway against the prevailing culture. They are increasingly isolated and powerless.

"There are also some who delight in the culture of ‘gotcha’ that exists and is encouraged at various levels, where the ‘zero-sum game’ against industry is strongest.

"The lack of systems and confidence to allow the free flow of information both up and down the chain of command within CASA sustains the negative aspects of the CASA culture, and reinforces and encourages behaviour that in a healthy, open and just culture, with a clear focus on cooperation with industry and positive safety outcomes, would simply not be tolerated.

"As with all cultures, the problem starts and is sustained at the top.

"CASA demonstrates no strategic engagement, with industry withdrawing from meetings and discussions that involve senior management due to fatigue from being lectured to.

"There appears to be a complete disconnect between words spoken by senior CASA management and what happens on the ground – with no consistency of policy or interpretation being a long-standing concern. CASA encourages industry to adopt sound management principles and systems such as SMS, ‘just’ cultures and strong executive control of aviation companies, but is hypocritical in not applying these same principles and practices to its own operations.

"CASA does not have ‘aviation issues’ – it has management and cultural issues. A resetting of the CASA/industry relationship is critical to establishing a more mature regulatory safety culture in Australia."

The AAAA submission also evaluates other government bodies influencing general aviation, rating Airservices Australia as "professional and competent organisation, with comparatively sound and well functioning consultation methods".

The full submission is on the AAAA website.

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