Aviation safety issues and actions

The use of risk management principles when considering an application under the Airports (Protected Airspace) Regulations

Issue number: AI-2013-102-SI-01
Who it affects: Airports managing protected airspace associated with their runways
Issue owner: The Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities
Transport function: Aviation: Airspace management
Background: Investigation Report AI-2013-102
Issue release date: 03 May 2018
Current issue status: Safety action pending

Safety issue description

The Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities adopted a prescriptive approach to the Hume City Council building application within the obstacle limitation area of Essendon Airport, which was in accordance with the process prescribed under the Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations 1996, but did not require the application of risk management principles to the department’s consideration.

Proactive Action

Action number: AI-2013-102-NSA-063
Action organisation: Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities
Date: 03 May 2018
Action status: Monitor

In response to this safety issue, the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities (Department) advised that:

The Department notes the ATSB comments that the approach to the application was in accordance with the relevant applicable regulations i.e. the Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations 1996 (APA Regulations). The Department also notes that under APA Regulations r. 14(2) the Secretary must approve applications unless they interfere with the safety, efficiency or regularity of air transport operations.

As outlined in the report, the Department stresses that the primary responsibility for providing safety advice rests with CASA, given that under APA Regulations r. 14(6) the Secretary must not approve a proposal for a controlled activity if CASA has advised the Secretary that carrying out the controlled activity would have an unacceptable effect on the safety of existing or future air transport.

While the Department does consider relevant risks (including to safety, efficiency and regularity) in considering applications under the APA Regulations, the Department agrees that in the future a more systematic approach to risk management should be implemented in relation to applications being assessed under these regulations. To this end, the Department will be guided by its internal 2015 Risk Management Framework, which aligns with the 2014 Commonwealth Risk Management Policy. The Department will document its risk management approach to airspace protection applications during 2018.

The Department will also work with key stakeholders to understand and document relevant risk management practices within those organisations (particularly CASA) that impact on the application processes and advice provided to the Department for the purposes of the regulations.

A significant change since the 2010 incident has been that in October 2015 the Victorian Government amended the Victoria Planning Provisions to include mandatory consideration of National Airports Safeguarding Framework Principles and Guidelines in planning processes around the state’s airports and airfields. This is outlined at: www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/planning/plans-and-policies/planning-for-airports/the-national-airports-safeguarding-framework.

This amendment will assist in early identification of potential airspace intrusions and facilitate communication between the relevant regulators, airports and developers. Further information about the National Airports Safeguarding Framework Principles and Guidelines is available at: www.infrastructure.gov.au/aviation/environmental/airport_safeguarding/nasf/index.aspx.

The Department continues to work with industry and State, Territory and local governments to improve awareness of airspace protection issues and planning processes.

The Department is currently reviewing the airspace regulations as they will sunset in April 2019 under the Legislation Act 2003 and will also take into account the ATSB’s findings on this matter.

ATSB comment:

The ATSB welcomes the above proposed safety action concerning introducing a risk based approach to decision making. The ATSB will monitor the progress of implementing this safety action in future amendments to airspace regulations.

Last update 03 May 2018