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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
08/02/2016
Estimates
INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO
Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

[19:35]

CHAIR: How are you, Mr Skidmore?

Mr Skidmore : Very good, thanks.

CHAIR: Long suffering.

Senator STERLE: He has only been here a year. I have been here about five.

CHAIR: Senator O'Sullivan.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: My questions are specifically related to the manufacturer of the Jabiru engine in my home state of Queensland. Is it fair to say that currently CASA and Jabiru are at odds in relation to some prevailing conditions under which their aircraft are allowed to operate?

Mr Skidmore : I do not think we are actually at odds in regard to the operations of the Jabiru powered aircraft. Back in December 2014, we established some limitations regarding the operation of Jabiru powered aircraft based on data and information that were provided to us by the ATSB, by Recreational Aviation Australia and from our own investigations.

CHAIR: For the sake of the people who do not know what we are talking about, can you tell us what has happened in this space? Have they been put out of the air?

Mr Skidmore : The aircraft is still operating under some limitations that we established. Based on that data that we were provided with, it indicated that there were around two to three times more occurrences of engine related in-flight shutdowns in particular than other similar powered or similar capacity engines. So based on that, we established a number of limitations that were to mitigate our concern with regard to the safe operation of those aircraft.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Do they include but not necessarily limited to not permitting passengers to be carried in a Jabiru aircraft, considering no solo operations, the signing of a warning notice prior to flight and no night VFR flights? Were they part of the limitations applied by CASA?

Mr Skidmore : There were limitations with regard to notification to passengers being carried, to not flying over populous areas and to no night VFR, from my recollection.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: What would be the substantive reasoning behind not allowing them to fly over populated areas?

Mr Skidmore : It was based on our concern with regard to the number of in-flight shutdowns, that if you were operating over a populous area and you did have an occurrence, it would be unfortunate for those on the ground. So we are trying to mitigate and ensure the safety of those personnel on the ground.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Would it be fair to say that if you are so concerned about them operating over a populated area, shouldn't that concern be that they ought not operate? It is okay to have a high risk to crash in a non-populated area but not in a populated area. That is what that restriction says to me.

Mr Skidmore : It is a consideration with regard to the risk associated with it and trying to make an assessment in mitigating those risks and, at the same time, allowing people to operate those Jabiru powered aircraft.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: You may have to take this on notice: what data did you rely upon that had you draw the conclusion of the number of shutdowns calculated?

Mr Skidmore : We had data from ATSB, from Recreational Aviation Australia and from our own investigations. We should be able to get the exact data.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Would you be able to do that?

Mr Skidmore : Yes.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Do you have any knowledge of the data? There would be no point in me asking you the questions if you are not familiar with the elements of the data.

Mr Skidmore : I am not sure I understand the question.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Did the data include occasions where the failures occurred as a result of the aircraft running out of fuel not a failure of the engine?

Mr Skidmore : We did have all that information there, and they would have been excluded. We were predominantly looking at in-flight shutdowns.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: As is the case when these assessments are made, do you have a grid that you compare to—and I find this an oxymoron statement—an acceptable rate of failures of an aircraft engine? Is there some reference you run your finger down and go, 'If in every thousand flights we have 10 shutdowns, that is unacceptable?'

Mr Skidmore : From my own background in regard to aviation operations, there will be an assessment that you will make in regard to the level of risk that is acceptable. Certainly for military operations we used to do that. In the case of civil operations I believe it is in the rate of about one in 10,000, but I will refer that to my Associate Director of Aviation Safety, Dr Jonathan Aleck.

Dr Aleck : We use the baseline that the US NTSB established. It was based on one in 10,000 of an occurrence with an engine being the acceptable level, if you will. The rates that we found were considerably above that.

CHAIR: How much above?

Dr Aleck : Two to three times.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Three failures per 10,000?

CHAIR: Three failures per 10,000?

Mr Skidmore : They were actually two to three times that of comparable engines. When we looked at equivalent engines, their rate was two to three times that.

Dr Aleck : Yes.

CHAIR: I declare an interest. I started in a 140, then went to a Victa and then went to a 150. What was causing the engine failures?

Mr Skidmore : That is what we are trying to work with Jabiru to determine.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Is it fair to say that some of the engines that are now under consideration are an enhanced engine to some of the engines that were involved in the failures? Using data from model A, Jabiru's manufacturing has now moved on and produces a model B engine—is that a fair assessment of what has happened within Jabiru?

Mr Skidmore : I cannot give you that exact answer. I am aware that there have been a number of modifications that have been proposed by Jabiru. There would appear—

Senator O'SULLIVAN: No, that have occurred—not proposed.

Mr Skidmore : They have modifications. They have done modifications to the engines, yes.

CHAIR: Was it fuel injection or bearing failure? What was causing the engine failures?

Mr Skidmore : That is what we are asking.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: But you would have to know. These failures have occurred; they would be subject to your investigation.

Mr Skidmore : There have been some investigations and we have done some teardowns on the engine, but we are not the manufacturer of the engine.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: That is not my question. The burden of my questions is that an event occurs where an engine fails. The burden of his question is that you then conduct an investigation—a very, very thorough investigation—of the circumstances of that event. The burden of the question is: what were your findings? When you looked at those engines where there had been a failure, what were the findings?

Mr Skidmore : If we have that information—I am not sure whether Jonathan has it.

Dr Aleck : The nature of the light sport aircraft engine is somewhat different to a certificated engine. The manufacturer is responsible for inquiring into the cause of failures. What we identified was a particularly high rate of failures that appeared to involve—based on the information that was reported not to us, but reported to the ATSB, reported to the manufacturer, as we learnt about it from field experience—valve sticking, failures of the through bolt and problems with the hydraulic lifter-rotor-cam configurations. Those are the three that we focused on, and Jabiru conceded that those occurrences were contributing to a significant number of the failures that occurred.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Did Jabiru indicate to you that they had gone on and designed and now manufacture an enhanced model of that engine?

Dr Aleck : What they have said was—and part of our concern is—that when the problems arose in a particular engine they repaired or replaced the parts that were involved. Their obligation under the certificate under which they manufacture is to make an inquiry as to the root cause of those things to see if it is a manufacturing related problem, and we have not found a conclusive view on that.

CHAIR: Can I ask a dumb question?

Dr Aleck : There are no dumb questions.

CHAIR: Where are the engines made?

Dr Aleck : Where are the engines made? In Bundaberg.

CHAIR: Where?

Senator O'SULLIVAN: By Jabiru.

CHAIR: But where? In Australia?

Senator XENOPHON: Bundaberg.

Dr Aleck : In Bundaberg. The whole purpose of the precautionary limitations were until we can find out what the problem is—

CHAIR: And resolve it.

Dr Aleck : Yes—so that the problem can be addressed. We have limited the risk to which people involved in the use of the aircraft are exposed. It is not a solution, it is not a cure; it is a risk-mitigation incentive.

CHAIR: With this particular engine, to the best of your knowledge, what is the maximum hours that one of these can run?

Mr Skidmore : We have participated in a tear-down of an engine with the three modifications, and that was at roughly 900 flight hours.

Dr Aleck : The standard calls for 200 hours. The test would be effective if it operated for 200 hours. This aircraft had 900, so that was quite impressive.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: The engine had.

Dr Aleck : Sorry, the engine had.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: During a meeting on 14 November were you advised that there had been design developments that had been made to the Jabiru engine over recent years? You were made aware of that?

Dr Aleck : That there had been design developments to the engine over the years—yes, certainly. We were aware—

Senator O'SULLIVAN: And they submitted to you that they felt they had resolved some of these critical issues that you had used to place these limitations on them? Did they make that submission to you?

Dr Aleck : They suggested that was so. I think the—

Senator O'SULLIVAN: Thank you for that. What evaluation have you now done on the enhanced engines to see whether their performance is better, and up to an acceptable standard, versus the old engines? Gentlemen, this company is on the verge of tipping over and this has been a long-running saga. I do not have time because, obviously, we have to restrict our time amongst ourselves. If any of the facts that are being presented to me are correct in relation to how CASA has dealt with this company—how long it has taken and the manner in which the consultations occurred—then there is a problem: a serious problem. I will not have time to deal with it today, but maybe we can have a quiet audience for me to go through some of these issues with you; otherwise I will be asking my colleagues to join me to have an inquiry to have a look at how you have dealt with this.

Dr Aleck : Certainly happy to have a discussion.

Senator O'SULLIVAN: All right, I will be in touch.

Senator WILLIAMS: Mr Skidmore, at last estimates we were talking about the cost of the SIDs compliance program:

The evidence we have or the investigation that we did led to an indication that the SIDS compliance or initial test result of investigations were in the order of $15,000 to $20,000 but then, depending on that, would determine the work that needs to be done and the cost involved in that.

So, you are talking $15,000 to $20,000, okay?

Mr Skidmore : It depends on the aircraft. It depends on who is doing the maintenance, but that was the rough indication.

Senator WILLIAMS: Okay, that is what you said:

The evidence we have or the investigation… were in the order of $15,000 to $20,000, …

But then repairs if necessary.

I have a friend who has a 1972 310Q Cessna with about 5,000 hours. He received three quotes to make his SIDs compliant. All three quotes were within $5,000 of each other and the lowest quote was for $60,000. It is now parked up. It does not fly and, as you said in Armidale—I really appreciated you coming to Armidale that day—you want to see people flying. He is now parked up because three quotes were all within $5,000 of each other and the cheapest was $60,000.

CHAIR: Is it a 172?

Senator WILLIAMS: Sorry?

CHAIR: Is it a 172?

Senator WILLIAMS: No, a 310. When you were saying at last estimates about $15,000 to $20,000, where can he get them for $15,000 to $20,000?

Mr Skidmore : It depends on the model of the aircraft. You wanted a rough sort of number with regard to the average. We have models going from the 100 series to the 200 series, and from the 300 to the 400 series. So it could vary throughout those series. I apologise if it sounds like we got it horribly wrong, but it might have been the case of a 100 series being roughly around $3,000 to $5,000, or $10,000, and anywhere up to the $60,000.

Senator WILLIAMS: That is where he is at—$60,000; hence it is parked in the shed. The value of these planes deteriorates something terrible. You received a letter from Mr Charles Koebel, from Walcha, who says:

Last year I was at Lake Hood in Alaska where there are about 600+ float planes. On walking around the lake I asked quite a few Cessna owners about SIDS. Not one of them had even heard of it.

Mr Skidmore : The FAA operates under a different regulatory system to ours. The Cessna SIDS was put out as an airworthiness limitation. It was necessary under our schedule of maintenance to implement—

Senator WILLIAMS: By CASA?

Mr Skidmore : In accordance with our regulations.

Senator WILLIAMS: So CASA has introduced SIDS?

Mr Skidmore : No, Cessna has introduced the SIDS program.

Senator WILLIAMS: He says in this letter they have never heard of it over there. Do we know of any catastrophes in Australia because of the condition of these Cessnas—their frame, or the reason the SIDS program has to be carried out? Have we had any fall out of the sky?

Mr Skidmore : The only one I can refer to is an ATSB investigation on a Cessna 208, I think—I would have to get the details—where there was a structural failure of the elevator. That was not in flight—luckily it was found on the ground.

Senator WILLIAMS: This bloke has his plane parked in a rust free area, in Armidale—it is a long way to the coast and salt water. Vehicles do not rust there, or very little, and yet we are getting all these planes grounded. Of course if they go to sell their plane they cannot get any money for it because it has to have a SIDS inspection—time is up.

Mr Skidmore : It was a program put in place by Cessna. I have seen their limitation, I have seen the actual documentation that says it is a mandatory inspection. In accordance with our legislation we have to implement that.

CHAIR: It is called buyer beware.

Senator WILLIAMS: It is the end of second-hand Cessnas in Australia, by the sound of that.

Senator CANAVAN: I have some very simple questions about the proposed FRMS changes. I understand it is moving away from industry exemption processes to CAO 48.1. Some in the industry have contacted me about concerns that there has not been a proper transparency about the reasons for this change, particularly the data that is relied on by CASA to justify the change. Have you provided the industry with all of this data?

Mr Skidmore : Yes, we have. Everything we based the 48.1 changes on is on the website.

Senator CANAVAN: When was that done?

Mr Skidmore : I do not know the exact date, but I can find out.

Senator CANAVAN: That would be useful. Apparently a letter was written to the industry recently which said that an operator may continue to operate under the existing roster/scheduling practices, provided any operation outside of the new prescriptive limitations is supported by an FRMS. Can I confirm, then, that this means that industry participants will be able to propose their own FRMS systems outside those prescriptive rules in annexes 1 to 6 provided they are supported by the data?

Mr Skidmore : My understanding is that the operator can propose to us a fatigue risk management system, and that is their fatigue risk management system however they define it—it could be inside or it could be outside the procedures.

Senator CANAVAN: And that is something you could approve, then, to be compliant with this new—

Mr Skidmore : We would have to do an assessment of it.

Senator CANAVAN: That is what you would do, and you are open to approving it?

Mr Skidmore : Yes.

Senator CANAVAN: Thank you, Chair.

Mr Skidmore : Chair, can I correct one thing I said to Senator Williams. It was an ATSB report into the structural failure of a Cessna 210 aircraft, and that was released on 16 August 2013. It raised safety concerns about structural integrity.

Senator STERLE: It should come as no surprise that I will have a few questions that are pertinent to Western Australia's local aviation industry. Just for the record, I have written to you, Mr Skidmore, and you and others have responded to my questions a couple of times, but I just want to go through a couple and get the answers on record. Airservices Australia states:

This additional surveillance—

referring to the ADS-B—

has become necessary due to the ever-increasing volume of traffic that Australia now experiences, particularly in remote regions.

It says Australia now has significant ADS-B surveillance coverage available across the continent. If these statements are correct, why is CASA allowing aircraft to fly without this technology on regular passenger flights—Perth-Albany-Perth and Perth-Esperance-Perth, as well as via Ravensthorpe, together with charter flights to Geraldton, Carnarvon and Paraburdoo?

Mr Skidmore : I am not sure of the exact details regarding those flights or those operations. It depends on the operator, but it may be that the operator applied to us for an exemption because they are about to take those aircraft out of service, and we provided them with that exemption.

Senator STERLE: It is, and I will lead to that. If these areas north and south of Perth are considered safe without the requirement for ADS-B, what areas would CASA deem appropriate to have the need for ADS-B?

Mr Skidmore : I would consider that the whole of Australia should have ADS-B—the best surveillance capability we can get.

Senator STERLE: There is not an argument from me. Does CASA believe that aircraft are safer and more efficient with ADS-B?

Mr Skidmore : If you consider that having a surveillance system actually allows you to track and monitor those aircraft, then, yes, that is a safer system. If it can then ensure that you can achieve better flight planning and better routing because of that surveillance system then, yes, it is more efficient.

Senator STERLE: Then why is CASA allowing Virgin, VARA, to operate without this technology, regardless of how far or in what area their services operate? I refer back to Perth-Albany and Perth-Esperance.

Mr Skidmore : Again, I am not sure of the specifics regarding that operator, but I will get the details regarding VARA for you. Off the top of my head, I cannot recall.

Senator STERLE: You cannot recall if they are operating those services?

Mr Skidmore : I cannot recall, if they have an exemption, what the exact reasoning behind that is. We have given a number of exemptions, and they are based on different reasons.

Senator STERLE: Do you accept that this exemption could be seen as CASA compromising safety over commercial benefit and advantage, particularly as the exemption has been granted to 30 April 2016, some three months after the deadline and two months after the reason of granting the exemption? If you do not have the information in front of you, I understand, but hopefully some of the other officers may have.

Mr Skidmore : I actually have the information. The reason we gave the exemption was that they are retiring those aircraft. Given that it was a short period of time since the establishment of the ADS-B mandate, we determined that it was actually considered not financially viable for an operator to be forced to do that, trying to take into consideration the economic value in regard to this and looking at the situation. Given it was a short period of time, they can operate safely. Discussion with Airservices ensured that they could operate safely. If Airservices had not agreed, we would not have gone down that path.

Senator STERLE: Without being cute, I do have to once again ask you: do you think CASA could be compromising safety over commercial benefit and advantage?

Mr Skidmore : No, I do not consider we do.

Senator STERLE: Can you outline what happens throughout the exemption process? Who makes the ultimate decision over whether an exemption is granted or not?

Mr Skidmore : The applicant would put forward the information regarding the exemption. The requirement for an exemption is listed. I am not sure whether I am the best person to go through this process. I will find the best person to go through the process for you.

Senator STERLE: For the purposes of timing, I am happy for you to take it on notice if that can be provided.

Mr Skidmore : Certainly. We can do that.

Senator STERLE: I understand that, as of 1 November 2015, there were only 98 aircraft in Australia not compliant with CASA's legislative requirements and that they had until 4 February 2016 to be compliant. Is that correct?

Mr Skidmore : The date is correct. I do not appear to have the exact numbers with me regarding the actual take-up.

Senator STERLE: That leads to my next question, because I said 98 by 1 November. I was going to ask if you could tell the committee what the number is currently. Obviously you do have that in front of you, Mr Skidmore? Is that right?

Mr Skidmore : We will ensure that we have that information for you.

Senator STERLE: Okay. Should there be a case where the safety of passengers may have been compromised due to the aircraft not carrying ADS-B via this exemption, who would be responsible?

Mr Skidmore : The safety of passengers because of the exemption? I am not sure what the issue is you are leading towards with regard to the safety of passengers.

Senator STERLE: If there was an accident or incident where it was proven that if they had had ADS-B they could, categorically, have avoided that incident—

Mr Skidmore : ADS-B is only a surveillance system. It is up to the whole system to provide and ensure the safety of all those involved.

Senator STERLE: Okay, so if there was a drama and that was not on board—

Mr Skidmore : Again, it is a part of a system. It is a surveillance system—we still have radar operating out in Western Australia. It is incorporated. But ADS-B provides that additional level of surveillance capability.

Senator STERLE: Maybe I have not worded the question well enough, because you guys know all the language and all that.

Senator Colbeck: It is verging on hypothetical.

Senator STERLE: Who would be responsible if there was a drama?

Mr Skidmore : It would depend on the situation.

Senator Colbeck: As I said, verging on hypothetical.

Senator BULLOCK: These people have got an exemption from something that everybody else has to do. You have a reason for deciding that everybody else has to do it—you believe it is going to help make the system more comprehensive and provide a better system. So if you did not think it was necessary you would not have made everybody else do it. These people have got an exemption—that must mean that this necessary element is not present with their aircraft. Senator Sterle says there must be a group of things that could happen without the system that—

Mr Skidmore : I agree. Things can happen. It is aviation—it is a risky business, but what it comes down to is—

Senator BULLOCK: All Senator Sterle is asking is: if one of the things that would not have happened if they had ADS-B in does happen because they do not have it in, is it not the case that the people responsible for giving the exemption could be held responsible for the accident? That is what Senator Sterle is asking.

Senator STERLE: That is what I am trying to say, yes.

Senator BULLOCK: It is not a real hard question, and it is not that hypothetical. There must be this group of things that could happen, otherwise you would not insist that everybody else has it.

Mr Skidmore : We issue a number of exemptions to do with any of the regulations. People can apply to us for an exemption. They list their reasoning behind it. We also ask them to put forward a safety case, so they mitigate the associated issues or the concerns regarding that. We also then can put conditions on the exemption if we are concerned in any way. In this situation, I cannot say what those conditions or the other applications were, but we would make an assessment based on the information we are provided to then determine whether we should provide that exemption or not. In some cases we have provided an exemption.

Senator BULLOCK: That sounds to me very much like accepting responsibility. If you say, 'We've applied these conditions and have satisfied ourselves that there is no safety risk,' and then something happens, it sounds to me like you are saying: 'If something does happen you can blame us, because we determined the conditions.'

Mr Skidmore : Again, it would depend on the actual situation and the assessment made at the time.

Senator STERLE: Mr Skidmore, it is rather difficult from outside looking in that, if CASA, who is the regulator, has some set standards and rules and says, 'You have to have this piece of safety equipment by X date,' it makes it look a bit like it is not really that important. That is how it appears if you are prepared to have exemptions, because, if they are still flying on the same route or whatever, what is the difference?

Senator Colbeck: Are you saying that it is not safe now?

Senator STERLE: I did not say that at all, Minister.

Mr Skidmore : Technology changes. As we try to grow and enhance the technology that is available, there are times when you have to say, 'We want all these systems in place.' Sometimes not everyone can keep up with that technological change. We are providing an opportunity for those people who can provide us with a good safety case regarding the requirement to then have that exemption. In this case they are phasing the aircraft out. It is a short period of time.

Senator STERLE: I understand. It leads me to: how long was the industry put on notice that they must have this technology? Was it one year, 10 years or whatever? I think that all comes into it too so they can work their way to it. You would know; I do not.

Mr Skidmore : The ADS-B regulations were introduced in 2012.

Senator STERLE: So they have had three years to get it in. I am not arguing with you. Has there been a precedent set in the past where aircraft have been allowed to circumvent regulations, like this example?

Mr Skidmore : I do not know that they circumvent regulations, but certainly operators can request exemptions.

Senator STERLE: If it was due to safety being compromised, why is it okay now and it is not compromising safety? Why did all aircraft operators have to install the ADS-B by the mandated date? So when was the mandated date issued?

Mr Skidmore : The mandate for the 500 nautical mile quadrant north-east of Perth was 4 February 2016, so it was last week.

Senator STERLE: I understand that, but when was that date issued?

Mr Skidmore : I might ask my Executive Manager, Airspace and Aerodrome Division, to confirm the date, if he has it.

Mr Cromarty : The mandate to which you refer was one of several which were originally put together in a package through an industry consultative group called ASTRA. In about 2005 this program started. The legislation was put in place in around 2009. Most operators for the first mandate, which became effective in December 2013, had just short of five years.

Senator STERLE: So when was all of the industry—or whatever part of the industry—notified that they had that date of 4 February? How much notice did they have?

Mr Skidmore : I would have to take on notice the precise period.

Senator STERLE: It is important. Is there no-one else who can help me out?

Mr Skidmore : Do you want the exact date of the legislation?

Senator STERLE: No, when they were told—when the industry was notified by 4 February 2016, 'You have to have this or you are not going to operate'?

Mr Skidmore : The original consultation, as far as I am aware, was 2005 to 2009, so there was certainly consultation and discussion going on with industry.

Senator STERLE: No, I have got that.

Mr Skidmore : I understand the regulation came into being in 2012. We can get the date.

Senator STERLE: The first mandate was 2013.

Mr Skidmore : The first mandate was 4 February 2016.

Senator STERLE: Sorry, I thought Mr Cromarty said 1 December 2013 was the first mandate.

Mr Cromarty : That was for all IFR aircraft above flight level 290.

Senator STERLE: That is a different mob, is it?

Mr Cromarty : That is a different group, yes.

Senator STERLE: So why are you throwing spanners at me like that—to trick me?

Mr Cromarty : As I say, the whole process was a series of mandates rolled up into the same regulatory package.

Senator STERLE: Okay, but the ones that we cover—what Virgin are doing out of Perth: Perth-Albany, Perth-Esperance, Ravensthorpe and then some chartered flights to Geraldton, Carnarvon and Paraburdoo—are obviously for a certain type of aircraft at a certain height or whatever. So when were they all put on notice? When do you reckon the ones that are doing this work now were put on notice?

Mr Cromarty : I will have to take that one on notice for you.

Mr Skidmore : It is something we would have to ask VARA. We would have put the legislation out, but it is Virgin who interpret that and make a determination.

Senator STERLE: No, but you are the boss.

Mr Skidmore : I am not the boss of Virgin.

Senator STERLE: I wish I could get away with that with the coppers when they were hassling the shit out of me as a truck driver. I wish I could use that excuse: 'You didn't ask me. Come and ask me first. I will tell you what speed I was doing.' You are the regulator. That is all I am asking.

Mr Skidmore : We put the legislation out and then we try and educate people and get them to follow the legislation and the regulations.

Senator STERLE: Right. So all I want to know is, when they knew that they had to come to 4 February—

Mr Skidmore : I can only assume that it was when the legislation was put in power and the dates were identified.

Senator STERLE: It is dangerous to assume here, Mr Skidmore, because people remember what you assume in further estimates down the track. Would you like to take it on notice and come back?

Mr Skidmore : We can come back and tell you when the regulation was put into power.

Senator STERLE: Right. And do I assume—which is always deadly—that VARA would have known from that very day that by 4 February 2016 they had to have the ADSB?

Mr Skidmore : Again, I cannot say what VARA was doing at the time, to say whether they knew exactly that. All I can say is that the legislation was put in place, and they should know.

Senator BULLOCK: Didn't you notify operations?

Senator STERLE: Don't you just say, 'Hey, you lot, if you haven't got this we're going to come and whack you on the head?' Don't you do that?

Mr Skidmore : We provide the information and we educate people regarding the legislation.

Senator STERLE: So when you educate them do you put out an email saying, 'Da-da! It's here. If you haven't got it by then we're going to get you'?

Mr Skidmore : I was not there in the time frame. I am not sure exactly what the process was that was followed.

Senator STERLE: That is what I am asking. There are a few familiar faces around the table who were. This is what I am trying to find out. We have this every time with CASA, I tell you. You know the pea? You know when you just move those pots around? We should just get rid of the pots. Does anyone know? How do you know what happens? Dr Aleck, you have been around a long time.

Dr Aleck : What I will tell you is that in the normal course, when a regulation is made, it has an effective date in it. When that regulation is published then anyone who knows of the regulation—it is incumbent upon an operator to be aware of it—knows what is the effective date. But I will add that our process has always been that when we are introducing new legislation—generally well before the legislation is made, let alone when it comes into effect—there is a campaign to make sure that those who are going to be affected by it are made aware of it. We can put it out there. We can hold events and we can put it on the website. But whether it gets into somebody's brain or not ultimately is their responsibility. I should be very surprised if a major operator were unaware of the fact that a particular regulation that will affect their operations comes into effect on a certain date. What I cannot tell you offhand is what that date was.

Senator STERLE: Okay. But someone will be able to find out.

Dr Aleck : I am sure that is so, yes.

Senator STERLE: Thank you. I do not know why they are still running, why the next one coming in does not do it. That will do. Thank you. That didn't hurt, did it?

Senator XENOPHON: Can I just go further to Senator Sterle's line of questioning about the ADSB. I spoke to Dick Smith—the solvent one—earlier today.

CHAIR: You mean that quiet young bloke that has a farm out here and flies occasionally?

Senator XENOPHON: Yes, that is the one. Not to be confused with the company. He is concerned about the implementation of the ADSB. Within 12 months—as I understand it, by February 2017—there is a requirement for ADSB to be fitted to every small plane that flies in cloud. Is that your understanding?

Mr Skidmore : February 2017 is the mandate for all IFR aircraft to be fitted with ADSB, yes.

Senator XENOPHON: Does that include small planes?

Mr Skidmore : All IFR aircraft.

Senator XENOPHON: Dick Smith advised me earlier today that it is in the region of $49,000 for that for a small aircraft.

Mr Skidmore : I do not know the numbers. I have seen the quote that Mr Smith has provided to me several times for his Citation jet. That is in the order of $55,000. I do not know the numbers for other small aircraft.

Senator XENOPHON: I am just relaying a conversation I had. I have his permission to relate it. He says, 'This will be the death knell of general aviation.' He goes on to say that there is no safety case, because this relates to avoiding collisions in cloud. Is that right? That is what it is about.

Mr Skidmore : It is an enhancement to a surveillance system. You can use a number of different methods to do surveillance. Radar is one of them, but we do not have radar all over Australia. ADSB is another way of providing it, by having stations around Australia. I understand—you would have to get the exact number from Air Services—there is in the order of 73 ADSB stations around Australia providing coverage anywhere from 20,000 upwards or thereabouts, but it will drop down to 10,000 in most areas and down to the ground in a lot of areas. So we are starting to get a surveillance system around this great country that will actually be providing us with information to be able to do air traffic management.

Senator XENOPHON: Because I have a whole range of other questions, could you take on notice the safety case? Mr Smith advises me that he does not think there has ever been a case of two aircraft colliding in cloud in this country.

Mr Skidmore : And let's stop it. Let's make sure we have a system in place that stops that from happening.

Senator XENOPHON: But it has not happened because, and the point was made by Mr Smith to me, there are already rules in this country in that you have to do a flight plan if you are flying in light cloud and you have to give full position reporting—something that does not happen in other countries. There are whole range of safeguards in place.

Mr Skidmore : There are currently procedural methods in place—and, again, this is more a discussion with Airservices, I suspect, to talk about how these things work—that operate in regard to an area without surveillance coverage. We are trying to provide surveillance coverage for Australia.

CHAIR: If I have Cherokee 140 or a Cessna 150, I am not likely to want to do IFR in cloud with that equipment on board, am I?

Mr Skidmore : If you are flying in instrument-flight conditions, I think you would like to have a surveillance system on board. As of February 2017, you will have to have it on board.

CHAIR: What proportion of people who have a Cessna 150 do IFR now?

Mr Skidmore : I do not have that figure.

CHAIR: I do not think there would be too many. Dick might, but I don't think I would.

Mr Skidmore : I do not think he flies a Cessna—

CHAIR: No, he does not—but a very nice caravan.

Senator XENOPHON: Perhaps I could ask you on notice about the safety case. My understanding is that we have procedures in place for flight plans in cloud and full position reporting and the like which is different from other countries such as the US and other vast countries. Dick Smith and others have questioned the safety case for that and also the impact on general aviation.

Can I go to an issue of infrastructure—that got Mr Mrdak's attention as soon as I mentioned the word 'infrastructure'. Mr Skidmore, I want to talk to you about the situation at Melbourne airport, which I and pilots that I have spoken to regard as an increasingly serious situation. There was a loss of separation between aircraft taking off at Melbourne and at Essendon airport on 12 November 2013. Over a significant period of time there was a loss of communications. I think the ATSB calculated 12 likely losses of separation or separation assurance. There was a night-time LAHSO, a double go-around at Melbourne airport on 5 July. There was a loss of separation between two aircraft taking off at Melbourne and an air traffic helicopter operating out of Essendon airport on Australia Day this year.

And over the weekend, I received information from people who wrote to me about incidents that occurred on 14 December 2013. A constituent reported that the aircraft touched the wheels at Melbourne airport and then took off in what he describes as a manoeuvre akin to something from Top Gun and the pilot went on the PA to say that he had to take that evasive action otherwise he would have 'collected a Virgin aircraft on the ground'—this is LAHSO. Another constituent today advised me of an incident on 22 December 2015, where aircraft JQ17 did a go-around at the last minute and that passengers were concerned about the proximity of the other aircraft.

My preliminary question is: if an aircraft does touch the ground then takes off again, is that something that would normally go to ATSB and you would be in the loop on that?

Mr Skidmore : I think it would depend on the circumstances involved in regard to that. I do flights in my little aircraft and I do touch-and-go's all the time. But this is not the case you are talking about. It is a situation where if they have to do a go-around, they apply power and they have made a safe decision to go around. In regard to the investigation on that, there should have been a report; in which case, it would have been followed up and investigated.

Senator XENOPHON: But you review those reports, you keep an eagle eye on those reports, to see whether any safety regulations need to be dealt with?

Mr Skidmore : Yes, Senator.

Senator XENOPHON: I am just looking at a graph that has been provided to me about Melbourne Airport's annual aircraft movements. Just to give you a rough idea, it says that it went from about 173,000 aircraft movements in 2000 to about 235,000 aircraft movements in 2015. Do you have a concern that Melbourne Airport might be bursting at the seams or, if not bursting at the seams, under increasing pressure to cope with a number of movements, given that it does not have parallel runways and given that it does have land and hold short operations?

CHAIR: Can I seek clarification, Senator Xenophon?

Senator XENOPHON: Sure. You are the chair; you can do anything you want.

CHAIR: If I have a single engine 172 or something, you used to be able to land at Mascot but you cannot anymore. Are we talking about those types of aircraft doing this touch and go?

Senator XENOPHON: No, I was talking about a commercial aircraft.

CHAIR: Doing the touch and go?

Senator XENOPHON: Basically, it had to do a go-around.

CHAIR: But what size was the plane?

Senator XENOPHON: I think it was a 737.

CHAIR: Okay. I take it you cannot land a 150 at bloody Tullamarine?

Senator XENOPHON: No.

Mr Skidmore : Unless you get approval. Senator Xenophon, I think your question was with regard to bursting at the seams at Melbourne Airport. I must admit I do not know what the capacity of Melbourne Airport is in regards to the number or movements or how much it can handle. That would be something that Melbourne Airport would be monitoring all the time. From CASA's point of view, we would be monitoring the system in place with regard to Melbourne Airport and conducting surveillance and audits as necessary. I can refer again to Peter Cromarty from airspace and aerodrome regulation.

Senator XENOPHON: I am conscious of time constraints because I want to touch on another issue. Having had a look at Melbourne Airport's master plan, it describes a number of ways that the airport seeks to further increase aircraft movements—increasing open areas, extending runways, optimising extra ramps and the like. It does not say anything about a parallel runway, which appears to be best practice. Is that something that CASA would have a view on to say, 'This is starting to get really pushing the envelope in terms of an optimal safety performance'? I think Mr Cromarty might be keen to say something.

Mr Skidmore : I might allow Peter to answer that.

CHAIR: While you are doing that, are we talking about cross-runway landings?

Senator XENOPHON: Yes, that is part of it.

Mr Skidmore : If I may invite my executive manager from airspace and aerodrome regulation.

Mr Cromarty : The traffic at any aerodrome can become busier and busier. As you are well aware, at the peak periods the delays increase. So if aircraft want to operate at that aerodrome then they have to operate in the quieter periods, otherwise they get continually delayed until they can land or take off. Eventually, when the airport becomes full throughout the day then what do you do? It is a commercial decision of the airport operator to decide whether they put another runway in.

Senator XENOPHON: But doesn't CASA have a role to say, 'We think you're operating to the limits of your capacity. No more or you need to modify.' I am grateful for the fact that after a number of weeks of agitation last year the last evening operations have been suspended until March this year, after you assessed—

Mr Skidmore : After discussions with Airservices. We were aware of the incident. We had discussions with Airservices and they put forward an option in regards to working with us and suspending the operations until they can resolve it.

Senator XENOPHON: Melbourne Airport is a privatised entity and has been for a number of years. I am not being critical of them per se, but they have a job to do for their shareholders. But at what point do you say that there is competition?

I am not picking on Melbourne Airport, but there is always going to be that tension between commercial interests, maximising returns, and the role of CASA to say this really might be pushing the envelope. I am not saying it is; I am just saying there must be a point where that intersects, where commercial interests may intersect from time to time with safety concerns.

Mr Skidmore : I think that is a very good question. It is one of the circumstances where, based on the assessments that we are doing, based on the discussion with the operators and with Airservices, who are intimately involved in it as well, we would have to see where we are getting to in that regard. But it still comes down to a commercial decision with the airport regarding any infrastructure development that they might do. What we will do is monitor, from our point of view, to ensure that they are operating in accordance with the regulations that have been established.

Mr Mrdak : To give you some time frames: Melbourne Airport, as you know, is now progressing the parallel runway project. The current indications are that the Australian government is now working with Melbourne Airport on the land acquisition required through a compulsory acquisition process. That will take some time. The intention at this stage, I am advised, is they will lodge their major development plan and environmental assessment process early next year with a view to the runway being available in the early 2020s. As the director has outlined, it is probably also an issue for Airservices—

Senator XENOPHON: So we are about 10 years away from another runway?

Mr Mrdak : But within that framework then obviously the aviation safety authorities and the air traffic service provider will work with the airlines in terms of the safety arrangements to apply. You have seen one of those actions already with the position CASA has taken on land and hold short at night. Look at the trajectory of, say, Sydney before the parallel runway, the way it also used to operate land and hold short and then moved to restrictions. So there are safety mitigation measures, including traffic flow measures, which are all put in place. The industry is certainly accelerating the development of a parallel runway. I think the safety of the—

Senator XENOPHON: You should get the Wagners to give you a quote.

Mr Mrdak : They certainly have an impressive record with the one they have done. If I can encapsulate from the portfolio perspective, there is certainly a safety management critical system which is built around the infrastructure—there is no doubt of that—until such time as the infrastructure can be upgraded.

Senator XENOPHON: I guess the point is, and I can direct this to you—I am grateful for that—that there seem to be more and more incidents. There seems to be greater concern. The pilots that I speak to say that they just do not like it, that they seem to be under more and more pressure with the increasing number of movements. Do you get to a point where you say you need to either restrict the number of movements or have a combination by expediting a parallel runway being built?

Mr Mrdak : I think it is a combination of expediting the construction of the parallel runway, which is underway, as well as safety management systems through Airservices and CASA which basically, if they do not restrict the flow, certainly manage the flow.

Senator XENOPHON: They might have to restrict the flow.

Mr Mrdak : It may come to that in terms of maintaining runway movements.

Senator XENOPHON: The restriction of the LAH50 operations in the evenings obviously has restricted the flow, but presumably that was as a result of a compelling safety case.

Mr Skidmore : It was as a result of our discussions with Airservices to say we were concerned with regard to the incident. They said they were taking steps to mitigate those concerns. Part of that was the suspension of LAHSO until we can get to a stage where we have a system in place that can manage it better.

Senator XENOPHON: I want to touch on another issue which I think is quite important. Could you, on notice, provide us with details of the correspondence, the process involved between CASA and Airservices Australia in relation to this? You know that I have a longstanding interest in Airservices.

Mr Skidmore : Certainly, Senator.

Senator XENOPHON: On another issue, and I just want to walk through it—if I get it wrong technically, I apologise—when an aircraft takes off from, say, Melbourne to Sydney does it only carry enough fuel to get from Melbourne to Sydney? It must carry extra fuel. What are the parameters of extra fuel that it is supposed to carry?

Mr Skidmore : We are talking about an operator's fuel management process, what they need to do?

Senator XENOPHON: Yes, for a commercial aircraft.

Mr Skidmore : For a commercial aircraft. I do not have the exact details of how they work that out. I know what I would do as a private pilot with regard to ensuring that I had sufficient fuel on board, but I am not sure about the operator with regard to that.

Senator XENOPHON: Okay. My understanding is that it will be the fuel to proceed on the journey. The information I have obtained is that it is 10 per cent of the fuel required. You need approach fuel. There is a fixed fuel reserve and a special holding fuel when required. So you need to have a reasonable margin, a safety margin.

Mr Skidmore : I can get Mr Roger Weeks, who is my acting executive manager, standards, who has a good understanding of all of this.

Senator XENOPHON: That is fine, because I do want to ask a couple of questions. My question is: does that extra fuel load take into account forecast weather conditions such as TEMPO and INTER? I understand TEMPO is the indicator of temporary fluctuations.

Mr Skidmore : For one hour. It changes for one hour. INTER is for half an hour, and any fuel management should take that into account.

Senator XENOPHON: And the possibility of diverting to an alternative airport

Mr Skidmore : And possibly diverting if necessary.

Senator XENOPHON: Okay, so I do not think I need Mr Weeks at this point. So it is not optional to take TEMPO/INTER information and alternative airports. You just have to do it, don't you, in terms of fuel loads?

Mr Skidmore : Again, I am only going on my own experience with regard to being a private pilot but, yes, I would take into account fuel management for a TEMPO/INTER situation.

Senator XENOPHON: From a regulatory point of view, you have to take into account TEMPO and INTER.

Mr Skidmore : We have defined fuel management applications with regard to our civil aviation advisory publication.

Senator XENOPHON: So you have to; it is not an optional thing. In terms of aviation accidents that come down to pilot error, I know you are not the ATSB, but pilot error can be a significant factor, can it not?

Mr Skidmore : It can, yes.

Senator XENOPHON: How significant can it be?

Mr Skidmore : It depends on the actual accident with regard to how significant it is, but pilot error is one of those causal factors that are taken into account.

Senator XENOPHON: And fatigue is one of those issues that need to be taken into account?

Mr Skidmore : Fatigue management is certainly a concern to a number of aviation authorities around the world, including ICAO.

Senator XENOPHON: You have instructions with respect to airline rostering to avoid pilot fatigue referred to as the regulatory flying duty limitations in 48.1 of CAO.

Mr Skidmore : CAO 48.1—yes.

Senator XENOPHON: I know it is a bit complex, but in principle these regulations prohibit a pilot of a two-pilot aircraft flying more than eight hours per day and/or having a tour of duty—flying and ground time—of more than 11 hours. In other words, no flight should commence take-off unless the pilot in command can be reasonably certain that the flight will be completed within these regulatory flight and duty limitations—is that broadly correct?

Mr Skidmore : I do not have the exact details at the tip of my fingers but, yes, it is a rough—

Senator XENOPHON: I am happy for you to take it on notice. I understand there are circumstances where it may be necessary for a pilot to exceed the eight-hour flying limit to nine hours, and the 11-hour tour of duty limit to 12 hours if they are in flight and, say, an unexpected weather condition pops up.

Mr Skidmore : That is my understanding, yes.

Senator XENOPHON: Yes, that is fine. Again, I am happy for you to go back. That is my understanding as well. I am informed that Qantas interpret this regulation rather liberally. They state in their flight standing order 84/15, which is dated 1 July 2015 and which I have received a copy of—and, just in case my friends from Qantas are listening, they will not be able to track where it has come from—that ATC holding requirements or forecast weather conditions that are TEMPO or INTER, or require an alternative airport to be planned, are advisory and need not be considered for the purpose of applying RFDLs. Are you familiar with that?

Mr Skidmore : I am not familiar with that order.

Senator XENOPHON: I have a couple of copies. I wonder if Mr Skidmore can get a copy.

Mr Skidmore : If I understand you correctly, you are mixing fuel management with fatigue management. Then we have to understand how that is actually being applied inside that—

Senator XENOPHON: Fuel management in a sense—the amount of fuel you have—might relate to the number of hours you are in the air before you have to land.

Mr Skidmore : It always does in my book.

Senator XENOPHON: That is right. It is the law of gravity, I think! But you cannot divorce fuel management from fatigue management, can you?

Mr Skidmore : I have not got the document, obviously, but the way you said it then I could interpret it also to mean, with regard to the termination of the required flight duty limits, not to take planned events or possible events like a holding for an hour or holding for half an hour as a limit.

Senator XENOPHON: I am happy for you to reflect on this, because it concerns me. The carrying of additional fuel is a mandatory consideration for TEMPO or INTER or alternative airports.

Mr Skidmore : For flight planning?

Senator XENOPHON: Yes, for flight planning. But the TEMPO or INTER or alternative airports do not appear to be mandatory considerations with respect to fatigue. Can you see my point that you cannot divorce the two because there is a strict requirement as to how much fuel you must carry, which by implication relates to the amount of time that a pilot is likely to be on duty? But it seems from this Qantas directive to its application of flight time limitations—and it is signed off by the chief pilot—that it is not a mandatory requirement.

Mr Skidmore : I am happy to take it on notice and have a look at it and then we can have a discussion if you like.

Senator XENOPHON: Also, in the context of that, I would like to get an appreciation of what Virgin and Jetstar's fight standing orders say and a definitive statement from CASA as to whether it fits the standing orders and if they are acceptable from a fatigue management perspective. I do not have access to Virgin and Jetstar's but it seems to me that this seems to be saying, 'Your hours should not be circumscribed by the TEMPO and INTER and alternate airports,' which seems to be, on the face of it, inconsistent, on my reading of it. You can see my point.

Mr Skidmore : I can that there might be some interpretation there that we may need to understand, I agree.

CHAIR: Senator Xenophon, my copy says: 'Dear Nick, Hope you find this interesting. Kind Regards, Joe Blake.'

Senator XENOPHON: No, it does not say that at all. Chair, I know there are other senators who want to ask some questions. I may come back to that in a few minutes.

CHAIR: Senator Sterle seems to have deserted us. Senator Cameron, do you have any questions?

Senator CAMERON: Only one quick one, and I would assume it would be a negative response. Did the agency have any involvement in the Badgerys Creek environmental impact statement?

Mr Skidmore : I would have to ask some of my executive managers. My understanding is, no.

Senator CAMERON: That is what Mr Mrdak told me this morning. I was checking that. Mr Mrdak is on the ball again.

CHAIR: Senator Bullock, you are on.

Senator BULLOCK: Mr Skidmore, are you aware of a study by the University of New South Wales that examined aircraft maintenance in Australia, released in November last year?

Mr Skidmore : I have seen a document by the University of New South Wales. I cannot remember the exact date it might have been released.

Senator BULLOCK: It is the Future of aircraft maintenance in Australia. It looked, for example, at the practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, and said that the system was under strain. It said that the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program had not worked since 2009 and, as a result, other countries had put in their own programs to look at the standard of international maintenance and recommended a review of Australia's safety oversight of offshore maintenance, noting their concern with the trend to Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements. Given that, the independent oversight that was previously provided is no longer being provided. That is the study. Do you recall that study?

Mr Skidmore : I can recall seeing a document from the University of New South Wales and I had a quick glance through. But I cannot recall sending it on to be assessed anywhere.

Senator BULLOCK: In brief, what it found is what I just said. So please just accept my word that that is what that study says. In light of that I ask: given the weaknesses in the ICAO system that have been identified in the report, what measures have CASA put in place to upgrade safety surveillance of the offshore facilities for Australian airlines offshore maintenance of registered planes?

Mr Skidmore : You are asking me to accept someone's opinion in regard to ICAO and oversight, and I am not prepared to do that at this stage, until I have done a more detailed study of the report.

Senator BULLOCK: Is it true that the system that I quoted them as saying ceased operation in 2009, ceased operation in 2009?

Mr Skidmore : The continuous monitoring approach put out by ICAO? No, it continues.

Senator BULLOCK: No; the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program.

Mr Skidmore : It has not ceased; it continues. We are part of it.

Senator BULLOCK: That has knocked me for a six, I must say. I am told that this report says that those programs had stopped and therefore other organisations were responding by implementing their own systems.

Mr Skidmore : Not as far as I am aware, Senator. Jonathan Aleck has a good understanding of this.

Dr Aleck : The USAOP conventionally involved ICAO sending groups of auditors around to various countries and conducting an audit. That process is still in place but it has been supplemented now—and I will not say supplanted, but supplemented by a program where states provides information to ICAO on an ongoing basis in response to a whole raft of questions that are put to them. The planning of those audits are now based on the kind of information that comes in. There are fewer of them conducted and, when they are conducted, they are conducted in part on the basis of information that comes in or the absence of information, but the USAP audit has not ceased.

Senator BULLOCK: Okay. It is sort of self-reporting from those organisations.

Dr Aleck : It is self-reporting, but those reports are assessed by ICAO and ICAO's assessment of those reports may actually lead to the conduct of an audit.

Senator BULLOCK: Are you aware that the United States has put their own system in for checking for overseas maintenance?

Dr Aleck : Well, many states have their own systems in place. Australia has a look at the—

Mr Skidmore : We go and audit organisations and operators overseas, maintenance organisations.

Dr Aleck : The USAOP was never intended to supplant a state's responsibility to ensure that maintenance organisations that are authorised to conduct maintenance on their aircraft are being managed properly.

Senator BULLOCK: So you are happy that those systems, international systems, are still working to your satisfaction?

Mr Skidmore : I think there are a number of systems in regard to it. There are a number of different aviation authorities that we respect and consider are doing a very good job and we would work closely with them in regard to that. We still send out auditors to do a surveillance of maintenance organisations in Europe when necessary to assure ourselves in regard to that, or across to Singapore or other locations, again, to assure ourselves in regard to the activities that are being conducted.

Senator BULLOCK: Do you believe you have got adequate resources to do the auditing and inspections that you believe are necessary?

Mr Skidmore : Given that we have a risk-based assessment or process in regards to making those determinations of surveillance activities, I think, we are developing and trying to get to a better and more robust system. But I have the resources necessary at this stage.

Senator BULLOCK: And you accept that, at the end of the day, CASA is responsible for ensuring—that it is in your court?

Mr Skidmore : Ultimately, the operator is responsible. We assure ourselves in regard to the activities being conducted, that they are done within the regulations.

Senator BULLOCK: And you believe that you have got the capacity to do that adequately?

Mr Skidmore : I can always do with more, Senator, if you want to get me some.

Senator BULLOCK: I was not saying you should not have more. Senator Sterle, was that all you wanted me to ask on CASA?

Senator STERLE: Yes.

Senator BULLOCK: Well, in that case we are done.

CHAIR: Have you got two follow-ons?

Mr Skidmore : Can I answer one question of Senator Sterle's, please, Chair?

CHAIR: No. Yes, go for your life.

Senator STERLE: Now you have thrown me off, but okay, go.

Mr Skidmore : The ADS-B booklet was published on the CASA website and distributed to operators on November 2012.

Senator STERLE: 2012. Okay, thank you.

Senator XENOPHON: Can I just ask a follow-up?

CHAIR: Get on with it. You have two minutes.

Senator XENOPHON: That is plenty, Chair. Mr Skidmore, I do not think I asked the questions with sufficient clarity and I apologise for that. There are requirements in terms of TEMPO and INTER, in terms of fuel and the like. What I am trying to understand is: does the pilot not need to add to the pilot's flight and duty limits the fact that there might be a TEMPO and INTER in relation to that? In other words, if there is a risk of bad weather, should that be taken into account for flight and duty limits? Otherwise, if you do not, you could have a situation where fatigue becomes a real issue, in that it goes beyond the standard flight duty limits. But, is there a requirement to carry this extra fuel—and this is not a trick question, I genuinely want to understand what it means. It is a concern that has been expressed to me by pilots and I think there is a concern—and I do not want to talk about particular airlines. I think that, if you are seen kicking up a fuss about that, some pilots—again, I am not referring to any particular airline—might find that they do not get rostered on as many flights. You can see the point.

Mr Skidmore : I am not an expert on section 48.1, so I cannot wrap fatigue risk management systems or fatigue systems into it.

Senator XENOPHON: But you see the point—the link between the two?

Mr Skidmore : In regards to fuel management, the reason that we specify holding additional fuel for one hour for TEMPO and half an hour for INTER is that those events may happen. It is a planning consideration: 'Okay, it could happen, because the weather situation is such that it might happen at that location. Therefore, it might happen. Let's make sure we've got additional fuel just in case.'

Senator XENOPHON: And therefore, Mr Skidmore—

Mr Skidmore : However, does that then translate into fatigue and risk and the rostered flight duty times? I do not know the answer to that one.

Senator XENOPHON: The question I am putting to you on notice is: does the pilot not need to add to their flight and duty limits if there are INTER and TEMPO conditions?

Mr Skidmore : It might not happen.

CHAIR: One of the things that are just as important—

Senator XENOPHON: But there is a contingency for it.

Mr Skidmore : But, in regards to fuel, that is a big risk to have the appropriate fuel on board. In regards to additional flight time, they can already get an extension for a certain amount of time. This is just allowing that extra extension as well if you have that situation.

Senator XENOPHON: You are pushing the envelope in terms of pilot fatigue, though.

CHAIR: Senator Xenophon, as much as the regulated time at work thing is important, just as important—and I have experienced this, in being up for two days fighting fires—is what you got up to the night before, as it were, when you were not on duty. Were you out on the bloody clouds all night? There is a bit more to it than just deadset regulation. If a bloke has been to bed and had 12 hours sleep, shit, he is pretty weak if he cannot do 20 hours if he has to, if it comes along. But, if you have been out on the grog and pole dancing all night, it is a different matter.

Senator XENOPHON: Speak for yourself, Chair!

CHAIR: My knees are too crook; I have given it up!

Senator XENOPHON: So, essentially, you will take on notice whether you consider that TEMPO and INTER fuel advisories should be applied to duty time. That is the nub of the question, isn't it? That is the question I am asking.

Mr Skidmore : I will take it on notice to investigate that question for you, yes.

Senator XENOPHON: Okay. Many pilots are interested in your answer.

Senator CAMERON: I would like to follow up on a comment Mr Cromarty made—and correct me if I am wrong, Mr Cromarty. You said something along the lines of: in a commercially operated airport, if you are operating to the limit of your capacity, it is a commercial decision if you then look to put in a second runway. Is that what you indicated?

Mr Cromarty : That is correct.

Senator CAMERON: Is it a commercial decision, then, to manage the balance between daytime and night-time flights?

Mr Cromarty : Yes.

Senator CAMERON: So, for the proposed Badgerys Creek airport, when the EIS says there are only going to be a few flights at night, that is subject to the commercial decisions of the airport operator?

Mr Skidmore : There might be a number of considerations in regards to that. In regards to the EIS, we do not do EIS assessments, so we cannot say.

Senator CAMERON: I am not asking you about details of the EIS. I am asking you in general terms. Forget Badgerys Creek. If there is a privately owned airport operating on a commercial basis, the balance between day and night flights is an issue for the commercial operator, provided they are operating within safe parameters?

Mr Skidmore : I think that is a fair assessment, yes.

Senator CAMERON: So, in relation to Badgerys Creek, anything that the EIS says about the balance between day and night flights would be subject to the commercial decisions of the airport operator?

Mr Cromarty : I had a briefing recently about the Badgerys Creek proposed airport, and it is—

Senator CAMERON: Who from?

Mr Cromarty : From the Western Sydney unit.

Senator CAMERON: Okay.

Mr Cromarty : It is being developed, I would say, by the Western Sydney unit. So I think that question would more properly be directed to the department.

Senator CAMERON: But you are the regulators.

Mr Cromarty : But we are the safety regulators, not the—

Senator CAMERON: Yes.

Mr Cromarty : We do not regulate the commercial interests of these airports. You are talking about a commercial interest here.

Senator CAMERON: But the answer you gave me is: these become commercial decisions, there is no issue of safety involved. But the operators of the proposed Badgerys Creek can make a determination about the balance between day and night fight. Nothing in regulation would stop them, would it?

Mr Cromarty : Not in safety regulations—no.

Senator CAMERON: What other regulations could come into play?

Mr Cromarty : It is not my area.

Senator CAMERON: You do not know? Or is it just not your area?

Mr Cromarty : It is not my area. I do not know. You are talking about commercial considerations here. We are not the economic regulators.

Senator CAMERON: But you raised the issue of commercial considerations, not me.

Mr Cromarty : Yes, that is right—in as much as the infrastructure at an airport is entirely at the discretion of the airport operator.

Senator CAMERON: That is fine. That reinforces the position that you made, and it has implications for Badgerys Creek. Thanks.

Senator BULLOCK: Chair, could I ask another question?

CHAIR: Before you get to that, could you just get the coordinates of Senator Cameron's house and see if you can move the flight path away.

Senator CAMERON: I think it is quite clear that if you did not think to say it again every time I come here, I do have an interest in it. There is going to be hundreds of flights over my house, and my community does not like it.

CHAIR: Don't take the bait! Senator Bullock, you have the call.

Senator CAMERON: And I don't like it.

CHAIR: Don't be a sook!

Senator CAMERON: Stop you being a boof head!

Senator BULLOCK: Calm down. Just going back to that University of New South Wales report, could I propose that you have a look at that between now and the next estimates, because we seem to be a fair way apart on its content. I do not think that tonight we can have an informed discussion about that. We might want to come back to it next time around.

Mr Skidmore : I am happy to do that.

CHAIR: So we are done with CASA. We now move to Airservices Australia.