• Little Wings volunteers. (Shelley Ross)
    Little Wings volunteers. (Shelley Ross)

CASA is advocating that community service flights should be operated under an Approved Self-administering Aviation Organisation (ASAAO) in a discussion paper (DP) released today.

DP1317 was released to gather aviation industry reponses to potential regulation of community service flights such as those operated by Angel Flight and Little Wings.

According to the DP, CASA believes that regulation of these operations is needed.

"Community service flights are potentially open to a wide section of the community and are conducted by pilots with varying experience and qualification levels," the DP forward states.

"Similarly, unless controls are put in place, the aircraft involved could potentially vary from an amateur-built experimental aircraft through to a turbine powered corporate aircraft. As community service flights become more widely used, the variable pilot qualifications and aircraft certification and maintenance standards become significant potential risk factors.

"CASA must consider and regulate appropriately to protect against an unreasonable level of risk in order to maintain an acceptable level of safety for the pilots, their passengers and the public."

CASA lists 10 options including no change, which would see community service flights continue effectively as private operations.

CASA's own preference is for the organisations to take responsibility for ensuring the aircraft, operations and pilots all meet safety standards, offering this explanation in the body of the DP.

"There are charitable organisations that already function as a kind of ‘booking agency’ for the conduct of community service flights. If this proposed regulatory model is adopted, such organisations (or affiliated entities) would be expected to ensure that the pilots and aircraft meet specified standards when conducting such activities under the organisation’s auspices.

"The ASAAO's responsibilities could include:

  • task-specific training
  • assessing and authorising pilots
  • monitoring pilot currency
  • assessment and approval of aircraft for the type of operations
  • regular pilot proficiency checking
  • pilot and aircraft tasking.

"The ASAAO would be required to produce an exposition detailing how it would perform the specified operations for which it sought approval."

The discussion paper can be downloaded from the CASA website, and responses need to be sent to CASA no later than 10 October 2014.

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