Senate debates

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Regulations and Determinations

Civil Aviation (Community Service Flights — Conditions on Flight Crew Licences) Instrument 2019; Disallowance

3:51 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Trade) Share this | Hansard source

The government does not support Senator Patrick's disallowance motion. As has been acknowledged, these issues were canvassed in the recent Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport report, which looked at, among other matters, maintenance requirements relating to Angel Flight.

The government acknowledges the great benefit provided by community flight charities such as Angel Flight in regional Australia. We appreciate the generous donation of time and expertise provided by volunteer pilots in support of this valuable work and the contributions that many make towards such organisations. We note that one of the two recommendations in the Senate committee's report includes a proposal to remove the provisions for additional aeroplane maintenance requirements which are beyond those required for airworthiness in general aviation. In this regard, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's view remains that the inclusion of the modest additional maintenance requirements for these flights is an appropriate and proportionate measure to address the identified risk of a high-use private aircraft undertaking passenger flights, and that these additional requirements are likely to affect less than 10 per cent of private aircraft engaged in these flights. The government supports CASA, our independent civil aviation safety regulator, to use its expertise and professional judgement to determine appropriate safety measures for flights carrying passengers.

Passengers, whether they are fare-paying or not, are generally less able to determine the level of risk in the service they are boarding and rely on the regulator to ensure aviation safety is maintained. While acknowledging that CASA's instrument places additional requirements on pilots—largely around the recency of experience and overall experience—these measures are a practical approach to mitigating any flight risk. Since commencing on 19 March 2019, we are not aware that the instrument has resulted in a lack of availability of pilots or their aircraft for community service flights. Therefore, given our regulator's advice, the government does not support the disallowance motion before the Senate.


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