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Tuesday, 9 May 2000
Page: 16097


Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, upon notice, on 15 February 2000:

(1) In relation to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA's) 1999/00 - 2001/02 Corporate Plan, what is the basis of CASA's continuing concern about the level and mix of traffic at some airports without air traffic services.

(2) At which busier locations does CASA believe the full provision of a control tower service cannot be justified.

(3) What has caused the potential shortage of Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (LAMEs) and the deskilling of maintenance facilities through the replacement of LAMEs by appropriately supervised but unlicensed staff.

(4) What action is CASA taking to guarantee the proper maintenance of the Australian air fleet through the training of LAMEs.


Mr Anderson (Deputy Prime Minister) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has provided the following information -

(1) With the growth in airline services to regional centres, the potential for traffic conflict problems at the busiest regional aerodromes without air traffic control tower services has increased. Such aerodromes are characterised as busy regional aerodromes, with high speed, high capacity Regular Public Transport (RPT) aircraft in the same airspace as slower general aviation aircraft. However, to address the concern noted in the 1999/2000 - 2000/20001 Corporate Plan, CASA proposes to introduce a new section of Civil Aviation Orders (CAOs), which will require aerodrome licence holders at designated special traffic mix aerodromes to provide a certified air/ground radio service as a condition of their licence. Under this proposal, detailed in a recently released Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), the radio service will provide operational information such as information on air traffic and on local weather conditions, which will assist pilots to arrange self-separation and to make correct operational decisions.

(2) Under the present division of responsibilities, Airservices Australia (Airservices) has powers under the Airservices Regulations to decide whether an air traffic control service is to be provided. However, in conjunction with the amendments mentioned above, CASA is developing a new safety regulatory framework for the establishment and disestablishment of these services, and minimum safety standards for the provision of air traffic control and related services.

CASA will release a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) Part 71 - Airspace, which will include criteria to be used in assessing locations for the provision of various levels of service. Under the proposed criteria, an aerodrome with less than 60,000 annual movements would not require assessment for a full air traffic control service, however it may require a Certified Air/Ground Radio Service, a Mandatory Broadcast Zone or Common Traffic Advisory Area. The draft regulation also requires that an aeronautical study be completed prior to changes in the levels of service, as well as consultation with stakeholders, a cost/benefit analysis, and a risk analysis.

(3) The loss of Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (LAMEs) to industry may be due to a range of factors including: (a) the failure of industry to adjust to market values (b) crossover of LAMEs to other industries with higher wages and conditions, and (c) the cost of gaining appropriate qualifications.

(4) CASA is proposing, after consultation with stakeholders, to introduce new regulations (Civil Aviation Safety Regulation Parts 66 and 147) relating to the mandatory formal training of all maintenance personnel to meet International Civil Aviation Organisation standards. As a result, all maintenance personnel in Australia will be required to perform mandatory formal training to a CASA approved national competency based standard. CASA will issue a license on satisfactory completion of training to a qualified aircraft maintenance engineer who passes a CASA oral examination that will test knowledge, and the capacity for supervision and coordination, and to make airworthiness determinations. This proposed formal training will enable civil qualifications such as a diploma or advanced diploma to be issued for the technical competencies gained. CASA believes that a qualification of this kind will become more attractive to maintenance personnel as it can be credited to other courses in further education, should personnel wish to further their knowledge and careers.