Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has launched a number of initiatives designed to re-engage the regulator with the country's flying training industry. The move follows concerns in the local industry that Australia's flying training standards have slipped.

The Flight Testing and Approved Testing Officer Management programme will be rolled out over the next year. The programme will see CASA conducting flight tests and working more closely with approved testing officers (ATO) with the aim of improving training standards and flight testing standardisation, says chief executive Bruce Byron.

The key features include the establishment by CASA of a new Sydney-based national office - the Flight Training and Testing Office (FTTO) - which will implement the programme and will become the focal point for flying training and testing matters.

The office will be staffed by a new group of flying training examiners who will conduct certain flight tests and work with ATOs. CASA will conduct the majority of initial issue grade three (aeroplane) and grade two (helicopter) flight instructor ratings and a range of other flight tests.

Under the programme, ATOs will also be required to undertake ongoing professional development and all ATOs will be centrally overseen by the FTTO.

"For many years, anecdotal evidence from industry has been that standards have declined. Many in industry have linked this to when CASA's predecessor stopped its involvement in flight testing," Byron recently wrote to the country's ATOs, adding that CASA has no intention of taking over all flight tests.

CASA has launched a series of meetings with ATOs across the country to explain the new initiatives.