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Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201500077
Date reported 11 September 2015
Concern title Cabin crew to passenger ration exemptions
Concern summary

The concern related to the cabin crew to passenger ratio exemptions granted by CASA to the major airlines

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Air transport
Concern subject type Aviation: Cabin safety

Reporter's concern

The reporter expressed a safety concern related to a number of cabin safety issues.

The 1:50 cabin crew to passenger ratio exemption

In 2011, the House of Representatives Standing Committee for Infrastructure and Communications tabled a report on the ratio of cabin crew members to passengers on aircraft. Shortly after the report was tabled, CASA received applications and granted exemptions to AOC holders to crew aircraft at 1:50.

The reporter has heard that the safety case made by CASA for the granting of exemptions was based on the US Federal Aviation Administration adopting the 1:50 ratio.

In granting the exemption CASA:

  • ignored the expert testimony on cabin crew ratio’s provided to the Standing Committee
  • demonstrated a lack of expertise in adjudicating a safety case when the rationale is based on a regulatory requirement of another State
  • ignored the wisdom and output of the Standing Committee.

Cabin crew safety issues

In an environment where there is a requirement to be able to communicate effectively, there should be a language proficiency requirement for cabin crew as the use of multinational cabin crew is increasing.

Some operators are now charging for passengers to check in baggage. This has led to an increase in the cabin baggage. An unintended consequence of this is the demonstrated desire that passengers have to take whatever they bring on board the aircraft during an evacuation – this was clearly observed during the recent evacuation of a British Airways’ Boeing 777 at Las Vegas.

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA has issued exemptions for a ratio of cabin crew to passenger seats of 1:50, which is in line with the manufacturers' type certification evacuation capability and is widely used in most International Civil Aviation Organization states.

CASA is addressing English language requirements in proposed Civil Aviation Safety Regulation 1998 Part 121 - Large aeroplane operations, which has been extensively consulted with operators and unions.

English language proficiency is currently managed by the operator through their Safety Management System.

While the air safety regulations outline a range of requirements in regard to the loading of aircraft, there is no specific regulation defining the size and weight for carry-on articles and baggage. This is determined by a number of considerations, such as the design and certification of the aircraft, weight and balance limitations, and individual overhead compartment weight limitations.

The airline operator must comply with the manufacturer's requirements to meet the aircraft design and certification standards. CASA requires each operator to define its baggage stowage and aircraft loading processes and procedures in an approved Operations Manual. The size and weight of carry-on baggage is determined by the operator in accordance with the aircraft manufacturer's requirements.

The management of cabin baggage by operators is an issue that is regularly included in surveillance activities in an effort to ensure the requirements of the regulations are being complied with. Changes to baggage management policy are also reviewed as part of the operators' change management process, which is a requirement under Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 82.5 section 2A.

Other relevant legislation is CAO 20.11, which details the requirement around evacuation procedures and management of passengers during an evacuation, and this is therefore a function that is assessed during entry control and ongoing surveillance activities conducted with the operators. Where necessary the operator may be asked to conduct an evacuation demonstration to verify their training program and evacuation procedures are adequate.

It is an operator's responsibility to ensure that cabin baggage weights do not exceed the weights used for calculating total passenger weights. CASA will continue to review any ongoing concerns about carry-on baggage.

 

 

 
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Last update 15 April 2016