Angel Flight CEO Marjorie Pagani has today said the charity will not appeal a Federal Court ruling that went against them last month, citing the cost of further cost of legal action as the reason.
Angel Flight had challenged CASA's decision to apply restrictions to pilots and aircraft conducting community service flights (CSF), but the Federal Court ruled in favour of the regulator and awarded costs against Angel Flight.
"It was extremely disappointing that the court proceedings against CASA, based on there being no safety case nor any evidence to support the CSF regulations, failed essentially on the basis that CASA does not need to establish a safety case, nor does it require any empirical data or evidence upon which to base its regulations," Pagani told Australian Flying.
"None of my evidence was challenged at the hearing. On the contrary, the evidence of the CASA representative was telling in that, he admitted only after rigorous cross-examination that he had no such evidence, data, nor safety case, in respect of any of the regulations – not a single one."
CASA applied the restrictions based on data that it said showed CSFs were more likely to result in an incident or accident than a normal private flight, attributing that to added pressure to complete the mission. Angel Flight strongly contested both the data and the conclusions.
"The evidence was that, in coming to the view that pilots were under pressure when flying CSFs, CASA had not asked a single pilot; that no-one in CASA had any experience with CSFs; that in terms of his view that passengers were uninformed, they had not asked a single passenger and totally disregarded the documents, briefings and videos passengers must acknowledge before any flight.
"As the largest single supporter of private flight GA in Australia, we can only say that we did all that was possible to protect the rights of those pilots to fly, and the rights of disadvantaged rural and remote people to access much-needed non-emergency medical transport.
"The support from our passengers and pilots was overwhelming, and we will continue to carry out this valuable work Australia-wide."
In February 2019, 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.