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Recommendation issued to: Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Recommendation details
Output No: R20010203
Date issued: 26 February 2002
Safety action status:
Background: Why this Recommendation was developed

Output text

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider instituting an education program for the industry highlighting the impending changes to operational standards to be introduced under Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 61 and its associated elements, in order to give sufficient lead time for early adoption and implementation.

Initial response
Date issued: 17 May 2002
Response from: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Action status: Monitor
Response text:

Thank you for providing a copy of Air Safety Occurrence Report 200100252 on the accident involving Bell 206 (Jetranger 111) helicopter VH-PHG which occurred 3km north of Bencubbin, WA on 16 January 200I with the following Recommendations,

R20010202

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority review the need to develop and mandate competency standards for low-level aircraft operations, Including powerline inspection by helicopters.

R20010203

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider instituting an education program for the industry highlighting the impending changes to operational standards to be introduced under Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 61 and its associated elements, in order to give sufficient lead time for early, adoption and implementation.

CASA agrees with the above recommendations and reiterates our advice forwarded to the ATSB in our letter dated 29 January 2002 in response to the draft recommendations. A copy of our letter is enclosed


29 January 2002

I refer to your letter of 12 December 2001 enclosing a copy Of draft Aviation Occurrence Brief 200100252, concerning an accident involving Bell 206 (Jetranger 111) helicopter VH-PGH. CASA has the following comments on the draft recommendations in the report,

Draft Recommendation A

CASA should develop and mandate Competency standards for low-level operations, including powerline inspections by helicopters

CASA agrees and is currently developing appropriate standards.

Draft Recommendation B

CASA should Institute an education program for industry highlighting impending changes to operational standards to be Introduced under CASR Part 61 and its associated elements, in order to give sufficient lead time for early adoption and implementation.

CASA agrees and this will form part of the implementation strategy of proposed Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 61.

Draft Recommendations C to F

While these recommendations are not directed to CASA, CASA feels that a further recommendation to the Electricity Supply Association of Australia Ltd (ESAA) could be included in the report; that contracts for the supply of powerline inspection services involving the use of helicopters, specify a requirement for helicopters to be fitted with wire strike protection systems (WSPS).

CASA notes that no mention is made in the report that the helicopter was not fitted with a WSPS or of the potential for WSPS to have mitigated the effects of the accident.

ATSB response:

The following letter was sent to CASA on 13 August:

Thank you for your response in your letter BE02/68 dated 01 May 2002 to Air Safety Occurrence Report 200100252 and our recommendations R20010202 and R20010203.

We acknowledge CASA's agreement with the above recommendations and look forward to evidence of the undertakings. In the meantime, the ATSB has placed the response on MONITOR Status:

R20010202
"CASA agrees and is currently developing appropriate standards"

R20010203
"CASA agrees and this will form part of the implementation strategy of proposed Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 61"

In acknowledging CASA's efforts we must however reply to the statement referring to your letter of January 29 wherein CASA suggests the ATSB make recommendation to the industry to fit WSPS.

A telephone conference meeting on the 06 December 2001 was arranged between CASA in Canberra and the ATSB in Perth and Canberra at which this and other issues relating to Bencubbin were discussed. During the telephone conference, CASA made the suggestion noted in the January 29 CASA letter.

ATSB responded that while discussions with the electricity association and the electricity company included risk assessment, a recommendation to the ESAA alone targeted a narrow audience and did not capture all low level helicopter operations. It was noted that another helicopter accident investigation also addressed this issue and would make similar recommendation. R20010083 attached to Air Safety Occurrence Report 200100443. The safety action in that occurrence noted that, although CASA implemented training programs to educate the industry on the hazards associated with low level helicopter operations since the last recommendation on this subject, it is believed that WSPS kits may yet be beneficial in mitigating helicopter wire strike accidents.

It further noted a previous recommendation on WSPS to CASA (then CAA) in R1 9950120.

The CAA response to recommendation R19950120 was:

"While WSPS may have been of benefit in this and similar accidents, the Authority believes that the fitment of WSPS should not be mandatory. However, the CAA is of the view that it should be strongly encouraged when suitable equipment is available.
The CAA in conjunction with BASI, is prepared to undertake an industry education program highlighting the hazards associated with low level helicopter operations as well as the advantages provided by the fitment of WSPS to appropriate helicopters."

In responding to the latest recommendation R20010083, while CASA "was sympathetic to the ATSB position" on this equipment, CASA's position had not changed and CASA would still not mandate WSPS fitment to helicopters capable of accepting it.

If CASA is now able to reconsider its position on this issue, ATSB is happy to support your initiative. ATSB recognises that CASA as the regulator is the body able to mandate the fitment of such safety equipment. If CASA does not feel able to take this action, it could perhaps consider encouraging the electricity and wider industry to adopt the full ATSB recommendations through its education programs.

Further correspondence
Date issued: 08 September 2002
Response from: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Response status: Monitor
Response text:

Thank you for your letter of 13 August 2002 concerning Wire Strike protection Systems (WSPS) and related Recommendations.

The Authority notes your comments regarding Recommendations R20010202 and R20010203 and that you have placed CASA's response to these Recommendations on MONITOR Status.

CASA will advise the ATSB of the final rules, as they impact on these Recommendations, developed under Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 61.

To encourage the maximum participation of interested parties in the consultation process for Part 61, the Authority extended the period for receipt of comments to 31 August 2002 and looks forward to the consideration of wide ranging views.

The Authority also notes your comments in relation to Recommendation R20010083, a re-issue of R19950120. However, the Authority re-iterates its position, stated in our responses of 1 June 2001 and 18 April 2002, that it does not intend to mandate WSPS.

Notwithstanding this position, CASA has made known the benefits of WSPS and the dangers inherent in low-level operations. For example, an article on this subject was published in Flight Safety Australia, July-August 1999.

In the last paragraph of your letter, you suggest that CASA "consider encouraging the electricity and wider industry to adopt the full ATSB recommendations through its education programs".

Whilst the Authority recognises its broader role, for example the action set out in paragraph 6, it considers that it is the role of ATSB to bring its recommendations to the attention of the appropriate industry associations and for the relevant associations to take appropriate, responsible action.

Thank you for bringing the matters to the Authority's attention.


ATSB Note: CASA's intentions and the recommendations will remain in MONITOR status until completion of the consultation, evaluation and promulgation phases of the regulatory reform.

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Last update 01 April 2011