What are the Transport Safety Investigation Regulations?

The Transport Safety Investigation Regulations (TSI Regulations) set out requirements for reporting safety occurrences across the aviation, marine and rail transport modes to the ATSB. They prescribe, among other things, the kinds of matters that must be reported to the ATSB, the kinds of responsible persons who are required to make a report, and the particulars to be included in an occurrence report.

Amendments to the TSI Regulations will come into effect from 1 January 2023. The amendments, developed after three rounds of consultation with industry between 2019 and 2022, establish a revised aviation occurrence reporting framework across four aircraft operation categories. Types of reportable matters are defined in 7 broad classifications based on International Civil Aviation Organization definitions. Whether an event is to be immediately reportable, routine reportable or not reportable at all is based on a combination of the 4 aircraft operation categories and the 7 classifications.

The revised regulations also prescribe additional responsible persons in the aviation and marine industries who are required to provide reporting, in particular sport aviation bodies, marine pilotage providers and vessel traffic service authorities.

A number of other clarifications improve administration of the reporting scheme. 

For the aviation industry, guidance for the TSI Regulations will be provided in the Aeronautical Information Package (AIP), Enroute 1.14, Air Traffic Incidents. Changes to the TSI Regulations have been advised in an AIC, with guidance to be included in the AIP in March 2023 available here.

A detailed overview of the changes introduced with the TSI Regulations (2022 amendment) can be found below.

Overview of changes to the Transport Safety Investigation Regulations (2022 amendment)

The changes amend the TSI Regulations in the following manner:

  • establish four categories (Category A, B, C and D) of aircraft operations based on the types of accident and incidents to be reported, where higher categories (passenger carrying and commercial operations) would have a greater reporting focus due to the greater public safety benefit that could be derived;
  • ensure immediately reportable matters are consistent with those matters more likely to be considered for investigation based on ATSB methodology, while reducing the reporting requirements on industry for those matters the ATSB are less likely to consider for investigation;
  • align aircraft operation definitions with flight operations rules in civil aviation legislation administered by CASA which commenced in December 2021 – this includes replacing references to regular public transport and charter operations which are no longer used in the civil aviation regulatory framework;
  • align key concepts such as aircraft accident, serious aircraft incident, aircraft incident, fatal injury and serious injury, with International Civil Aviation Organization definitions;
  • simplify reporting requirements for industry by removing prescriptive lists of individual kinds of incidents and defining occurrence concepts more broadly, with guidance material published on the ATSB website and in the AIP to supplement examples of matters to be reported;
  • clarify that certain aircraft incidents are to be reported as serious aircraft incidents, due to their relative importance in identifying safety risks;
  • clarify that occurrences during repositioning flights prior to conducting a passenger transport operation (Category A) or non-passenger commercial operation (Category B) are reportable as part of the planned operation;
  • prescribe additional persons who are responsible for reporting in the aviation industry (sport aviation bodies) and marine industry (pilotage service providers and vessel traffic service providers) to increase the ATSB’s safety information coverage; and
  • improve ATSB’s administration of the occurrence reporting framework by making other minor, technical or clarifying changes.

Categories of aircraft operations

Each of the categories mentioned cover the following kinds of aircraft operations:

Category

Kinds of aircraft operations covered

Category A (passenger transport) aircraft operations

 

 

What is included in Category A?

(1) Passenger transport operation (within the meaning of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR)) being an operation in an aircraft that involves the carriage of passengers[1], whether or not cargo is also carried on the aircraft. 

  • Examples include: air transport operations (scheduled or non-scheduled), balloon transport operations,[2] mining fly-in-fly-out operations, scenic flights/joy flights, parachuting operations, future advanced air mobility passenger carrying operations, and aerial work operations that carry passengers who are not crew members.

(2) Medical transport operation (within the meaning of CASR) being an operation with the primary purpose of transporting medical patients, medical personnel, or supplies (blood, tissue etc), or an operation prescribed by CASA in the CASR Part 119 Manual of Standards as a medical transport operation.

  • Examples include: flights formerly known as air ambulance operations, Royal Flying Doctor Service flights and patient transport/transfer services using aircraft operated by State and Territory ambulance services.

(3) Repositioning flights prior to conducting a substantive Category A operation (passenger transport or medical transport) will also be treated as a Category A operation for the purposes of occurrence reporting.

What is excluded from Category A?

Category A aircraft operations will not include an operation in an aircraft with a special certificate of airworthiness, or a cost-sharing flight[3], or operation of an aircraft (where the registered operator is an individual) that carries passengers without payment or reward.

For example, if a scenic flight involves ‘cost-sharing’ – then any occurrences during that operation would be reportable under Category C (non commercial) aircraft operations. It is important to note that cost-sharing is limited to an aircraft configuration of not more than 6 seats (including pilot’s seat) and requires the pilot in command to directly contribute to equal costs for the flight.

Category B (commercial non-passenger) aircraft operations

 

 

What is included in Category B?

(1) Operation conducted for a commercial purpose – any non passenger carrying aircraft operation that is conducted for a commercial purpose will be included in Category B. A ‘commercial purpose’ is intended to have a general meaning and includes, among other things, operations conducted for hire or reward. 

  • Examples include: aerial work operations such as surveying, spotting, surveillance, agricultural operations, aerial photography; search and rescue operations; flying training activities (such as training under a CASR Part 141 or CASR Part 142 training organisation).

(2) Cargo transport operation (within the meaning of CASR) being an operation of an aircraft that involves the carriage of cargo and crew only (excluding operation for the carriage of possessions of the operator, or pilot in command, for business or trade).

  • Examples include: air freight, air mail, and parcel/package delivery using aircraft operated by logistics companies. 

(3) operating Type 1 RPA (defined in section 6 of the TSI Regulations and adopting CASR definitions) being a large RPA[4], medium RPA[5] or RPA which is type certificated (and which is not an excluded RPA or micro RPA). 

  • Examples include: package delivery using large RPA, agricultural operations, other kinds of aerial work.

(4) Repositioning flights prior to conducting a substantive Category B operation will also be treated as a Category B operation for the purposes of occurrence reporting.

What is excluded from Category B?

To avoid doubt, Category B aircraft operations do not include Category A (passenger transport) aircraft operations or Category D (type 2 RPA and certain unmanned balloons) aircraft operations.

This means in practice, Category A operations (if applicable) take precedence for the purposes of occurrence reporting – if the operation is not Category A, then responsible persons (pilots, operators and others mentioned in section 13 of the TSI Regulations) should consider if the operation would then fall within the scope of Category B for commercial purposes (unless it would be Category D), and if not, then whether the other two remaining categories would apply. 

For example, if an operator is contracted to conduct crop spraying for a client’s farmland, this would be considered a commercial purpose (Category B). However, if an operator undertakes crop spraying on their own land, there is no commercial purpose in relation to the aircraft operation and this would be considered an operation covered under Category C (non-commercial).

Category C (non-commercial) aircraft operations

 

 

What is included in Category C?

(1) Operation of an aircraft that is not Category A, Category B or Category D – this broad description has the aim of covering non-commercial operations (with a pilot on board) generally. This means Category C includes recreational flying, general aviation, and flights where the pilot shares equally in costs with passengers (cost sharing). 

  • Examples include: flying activities at local aero clubs, solo flying, community service flights, gliding activities.

What is excluded from Category C?

The purpose of Category C is to cover every kind of remaining aircraft operation (with a pilot on board) that is not excluded from the aviation occurrence reporting framework under subsection 7(3) of the TSI Regulations. 

Subsection 7(3) provides that Part 2 (aircraft operations) of the TSI Regulations do not apply to ‘excluded aircraft’ – being an Australian defence aircraft, an exempt foreign aircraft, or an RPA that is not type 1 RPA or type 2 RPA. The Amendment Regulations also extend the exclusions listed in subsection 7(3) to model aircraft, small balloons and light balloons and tethered balloons. 

Category D (type 2 RPA and certain unmanned balloons) aircraft operations

 

 

What is included in Category D?

(1) operating type 2 RPA (defined in section 6 of the TSI Regulations) being an RPA that is not a type 1 RPA, not an excluded RPA, and not a micro RPA.

(2) operating a medium balloon (defined in Part 101 of CASR) being an unmanned free balloon with, among other things, a payload with combined mass of at least 4kg but less than 6kg.

(3) operating a heavy balloon (defined in Part 101 of CASR) being an unmanned free balloon with, among other things, a payload with combined mass of at least 6kg.

  • Examples include: commercial and non-commercial operation of a very small RPA (more than 250g but under 2kg) such as the DJI Phantom 4 or a small RPA (more than 2kg but under 25kg) such as the DJI Agras MG-1. Unmanned balloons capable of reaching stratospheric heights would also be included in Category D.

What is excluded from Category D?

Category D covers a subset of unmanned aircraft operations that are not already covered under earlier categories. If the aircraft operation is not using a type 2 RPA, medium balloon or heavy balloon, then Category D would not apply.

The framework clarifies that occurrences during repositioning flights for the purpose of conducting Category A aircraft operations must be reported as a Category A (passenger carrying) aircraft operation, and similarly for Category B (commercial non-passenger) aircraft operations. The rationale for including Category A and Category B repositioning flights is to ensure that occurrences for those operations with greater public safety impact and interest are included in categories that provide proper visibility of safety matters leading up to conduct of the substantive operation. The requirement for reporting occurrences during repositioning flights does not apply to Category C (non commercial) aircraft operations or Category D (type 2 RPA and certain unmanned balloons) aircraft operations.

Kinds of reportable matters

The amended reporting framework, based on categories of aircraft operations, will facilitate ease of understanding what would be reportable as an immediately reportable matter (IRM) or routine reportable matter (RRM) to better align with the ATSB’s investigation methodology and reduce reporting anomalies. The following table summarises the different categories of aircraft operations with associated IRM and RRM to be reported. Each of the 7 classifications referred to in the table is defined in the Regulations and the Guidance, and the guidance also provide comprehensive examples of events that fall into each classification.

Category

Immediately reportable matters (IRM)

Routine reportable matters (RRM)

Section 11A: Category A (passenger transport) aircraft operations

 

The following kinds of occurrences reported as IRMs:

  • aircraft accident;
  • reportable serious aircraft incident;
  • loss of separation standard between aircraft;
  • declaration of an emergency in relation to the aircraft; and
  • serious property damage incident (external).

The following kinds of occurrences reported as RRMs:

  • aircraft incident; and
  • aircraft incident (external).

 

Section 11B: Category B (commercial non-passenger) aircraft operations

 

The following kinds of occurrences e reported as IRMs:

  • aircraft accident;
  • loss of separation standard between aircraft; and
  • serious property damage incident (external).

The following kinds of occurrences reported as RRMs:

  • reportable serious aircraft incident;
  • declaration of an emergency in relation to the aircraft; and
  • aircraft incident (external).

 

Section 11C: Category C (non-commercial) aircraft operations

 

The following kinds of occurrences reported as IRMs:

  • aircraft accident – limited to fatal aircraft-related injuries, serious aircraft-related injuries, or missing aircraft;
  • loss of separation standard between aircraft; and
  • serious property damage incident (external).

The following kinds of occurrences reported as RRMs:

  • aircraft accident other than reportable as an IRM;
  • reportable serious aircraft incident;
  • declaration of an emergency in relation to the aircraft; and
  • aircraft incident (external).

 

Section 11D: Category D (type 2 RPA and certain unmanned balloons) aircraft operations

 

The following kinds of occurrences reported as IRMs:

  • aircraft accident – limited to fatal aircraft-related injuries or serious aircraft-related injuries; and
  • serious property damage incident (external).

 

The following kinds of occurrences reported as RRMs:

  • aircraft accident other than reportable as an IRM; and
  • loss of a separation standard between aircraft.

 

 

Click here for a link to the ATSB consultation page for Amendment to the Transport Safety Investigation Regulations 2021. 

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  1. A passenger under CASR, in relation to an aircraft, means a person who is not a crew member of the aircraft and is on board the aircraft for a flight.
  2. A tethered balloon is not a Part 131 aircraft under regulation 131.005 of CASR, and therefore a tethered balloon operation carrying passengers (for example, a helium gas balloon used as a tethered sightseeing platform) is not a balloon transport operation under regulation 131.010 of CASR. However, a tethered balloon operation carrying passengers would be considered a passenger transport operation within the meaning of CASR and therefore included in Category A.
  3. A cost-sharing flight is defined in CASR as meaning a flight conducted using an aircraft with a maximum seat configuration of not more than 6 (including the pilot’s seat), and the pilot in command is not remunerated for the flight, and the pilot in command pays an amount of direct costs of the flight at least equal to the amount paid by each other person on board equally divided, and the flight is not advertised to the general public.
  4. A large RPA is defined in regulation 101.022 of CASR as meaning an RPA with gross weight over 150kg.
  5. A medium RPA is defined in regulation 101.022 of CASR as meaning an RPA of more than 25kg but not more than 150kg.