Recommendation R20070013

Recommendation issued to: Civil Aviaiton Safety Authority

Recommendation details
Output No: R20070013
Date issued: 03 August 2007
Safety action status: Closed - No Action
Background: Why this Recommendation was developed

Output text

Safety Issue

The requirements of Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) 157 and the operator's Approval to conduct Low Flying Instrument did not include any requirement to specifically define the area in which the low flying was carried out.

Safety Recommendation

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority address this safety issue.

Initial response
Date issued: 23 September 2008
Response from: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Response text:

Further to your transport safety investigation report 200600523 on the fatal accident involving a Bell 206B (lll) helicopter registered, VH-MFI, which occurred 15 kilometres east of Parkes Aerodrome, New South Wales on 2 February 2006 and the subsequent coronial investigation, CASA would like to inform the ATSB of additional action CASA is taking regarding ATSB recommendations R20070013 and R20070014.

R20070013 [safety issue description deleted]

CASA is reviewing ATSB recommendation 20070013. CASA understands that the intent of the ATSB recommendation is for operations conducted at heights below CAR 157 (1000 feet over populous area and 500 feet over non populous area) to only be carried out in accordance with an operator's operations manual in an area defined in advance by the task.

Further correspondence
Date issued: 14 December 2009
Response from: Civil Aviaiton Safety Authority
Response text:

I refer to your e-mail dated 30 September 2009 requesting an update on ATSB recommendations and related actions that resulted from the above referenced investigation and in particular, ATSB recommendation R20070013.

This recommendation related to Low Flying Instruments and was developed and issued an effort to minimise the unnecessary exposure of an aircraft and crew to low-level hazards, including powerlines, in an attempt to reduce the risk of a wire strike.

We have reviewed our initial response and can now provide an update as follows.

Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) 206 defines what is considered Aerial Work operation.  The purpose of issuing a Low Flying Instrument of Approval to conduct operations below the altitudes specified in CAR 157 is to allow an operator to participate in Aerial Work activities as outlined on the operators' air operations certificate (AOC).

The "area" of operation is not defined on the Instrument because the nature of aerial work is such that it is generally not confined to the same specific geographic area for every operation, for example Air Ambulance, Search and Rescue are aerial work functions.  To specify an "area" of operations, CASA would need to have knowledge of the area of operations and time of operation relevant to the activity being undertaken for each task.  The assessment of these facts would be limited by resources and may not necessarily lead to enhanced safety outcomes.  

It is generally recognised that the low flying activity is hazardous because of the task, not necessarily the "area" in which it is being performed.  The responsibility is placed on both the pilot and operator to ascertain the risk for each operation and apply the procedures to mitigate the identified risks in operating an aircraft for the task.  The operator must outline in Part D of the operators' Operations Manual how each Aerial Work or specialised activity is to be conducted and training and minimum experience requirements.  Pilots in command must have qualification through training to perform the low flying task.

The introduction of CASR 119 in the future will require all passenger carrying AOC's to have a Safety Management System (SMS) in place.  There is no current legislation that requires an Aerial Work AOC to have a formal SMS.  The lack of a formal SMS does not relieve the pilot in command of an aircraft of the responsibility to assess the level of risk involved in performing the task.  Part D of the Operations Manual should have sufficient detail on how to conduct the operation and mitigate any risk involved.

ATSB comment:

The CASA response does not address the intent of the recommendation, which was to reduce unnecessary aircraft exposure to low-level hazards.

This recommendation has been closed - no action.

Last update 05 April 2012