The current legislation does not require commercial operators of aircraft not greater than 5,700 kg maximum take-off weight to provide instructions and procedures for crosschecking the quantity of fuel on board before and/or during flight. This increases the risk that operators in this category will not implement effective fuel policies and training to prevent fuel exhaustion events.
The introduction of of CASA 29/18 – Civil Aviation (Fuel Requirements) Instrument 2018, which commenced on 28 February 2019 for Air Operators and Part 141 certificate holders, adequately addresses the safety issue.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has started project CD 1508OS, which was published on their website 20 January 2016. The project contains the proposed changes to Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) 234, the issuance of a CAR 234 Legislative Instrument, and revised Civil Aviation Advisory Publication (CAAP) 234-1(2): Guidelines for aircraft fuel requirements, CAAP 215-1(2): Guide to the preparation of Operations Manuals, Volume 2, appendix B9: Fuel management, and the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) handbook Volume 2 – Flying Operations – Section 6: Fuel policy and related requirements. Once made into law, the amendments to the existing CAR 234 will commence on 8 November 2018.
A key outcome of the amendment is providing clarity about the regulatory requirements that apply to fuel by having those requirements set out in a legislative instrument. This overcomes difficulties with the previous arrangement, where requirements were set out in guidance material ‘called up’ by regulation, in that the requirements were often not readily recognised as having the force of law. CASA 29/18 – Civil Aviation (Fuel Requirements) Instrument 2018 sets out the legislative requirements that:
To assist industry and CASA understanding of the changes to the fuel requirements in legislation, the amendment to guidance material CAAP 234-1(2) will be published. It will contain enhanced guidance on the generally applicable fuel related areas of the legislative instrument. CAAP 234-1(2) will differentiate between requirements and guidance.
The ATSB has reviewed the draft project documents for CD 1508OS and considers that the implementation of the CAR 234 Legislative Instrument and CAAP 234-1(2), in conjunction with their requirements reflected in the AOC Handbook, should address the safety issue. The ATSB will continue to monitor the action by CASA. Until that time, the ATSB issues the following Safety Advisory Notice to AOC holders operating aircraft not greater than 5,700 kg.
CASA 29/18 Instrument
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) issued CASA 29/18 Civil Aviation (Fuel Requirements) Instrument 2018, which came into force for all Air Operator Certificate holders with effect from 28 February 2019.
CASA 29/18 Instrument 2018 was supported by an Explanatory Statement, revision of the Air Operator's Certificate Handbook Volume 2 - Flying Operations, and revision of Civil Aviation Advisory Publications 215-1(3): Guide to the preparation of Operations Manuals, and 234-1(2): Guidelines for aircraft fuel requirements.
Section 6 of CASA 29/18 includes the requirement for pilots to ensure there is sufficient usable fuel on board their aircraft before commencement of flight, to conduct regular fuel quantity checks in-flight in order to evaluate the usable fuel remaining, and for Air Operators and Part 141 certificate holders to include instructions and procedures in their operations manual for recording usable fuel on board before and during flight.
The introduction of CASA 29/18, associated guidance material in Civil Aviation Advisory Publications 215-1(3) and 234-1(2), and revision of the Air Operator's Certificate Handbook Volume 2 - Flying Operations, are considered to be a broad reform of improvements, greater than the original safety issue statement.
The changes were advertised by CASA in their newsletters and education material produced for private pilot operations.
CASA 29/18 Instrument
Civil Aviation Amendment (Fuel and Oil Requirements) Regulations 2018, supported by amended CAAP 234.
From 2003 to 2017, the ATSB has received 26 reports of fuel exhaustion events from Air Operator Certificate holders operating aircraft not greater than 5,700 kg MTOW. Two key contributing factors from these reports are pilots not crosschecking the fuel on board before and/or during flight. Aircraft greater than 5,700 kg MTOW are not represented in the ATSB fuel exhaustion reports. In accordance with CAO 20.2, operators of these aircraft are required to publish instructions and procedures in their operations manuals for the pilot in command to verify the fuel on board before flight. Additionally, CAAP 215-1(2) Appendix B includes guidelines for publishing operations manual procedures for inflight fuel management.
CASA 29/18 – Civil Aviation (Fuel Requirements) Instrument 2018, which contains proposed changes to the current fuel regulations and guidance material, is scheduled to commence 8 November 2018. The ATSB considers that the implementation of these changes should address this safety issue.
Until the proposed changes to the current fuel regulations and guidance material are implemented, the ATSB advises AOC holders for aircraft not greater than 5,700 kg MTOW, to consider this safety issue and take action where appropriate.
Safety Advisory Notice: AO-2016-078-SAN-009 : Air Operator Certificate holders operating aircraft not greater than 5,700 kg