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Australia to implement air safety review recommendations

Australia’s government will move to implement almost all of the recommendations made in a recent review of air safety, with the aim of improving the country’s already strong safety record.

The Aviation Safety Regulation Review, released in June, was led by former Qantas and Airservices executive David Forsyth, and also had inputs from international experts Don Spruston and Roger Whitefield.

Delivering the government’s response to the Aviation Safety Regulation Review, infrastructure minister Warren Truss told Parliament that the country maintains an “advanced regulatory system” for aviation.

“However given the speed with which the global and domestic aviation industry is changing, we need to look for continuous improvement in our aviation safety regulatory system. We need to update our system to reflect the growing diversity of our aviation industry.”

The report made 37 recommendations, largely directed at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) but also involves the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), Airservices Australia and the Department of Defence.

Canberra says it has agreed to, or will look further into, 36 of the recommendations. Most of these recommendations call for greater interaction between CASA and the industry, as well as strengthening the ATSB's aviation investigation ability.

Truss says the newly appointed CASA board will soon receive a Statement of Expectations, which will be targeted at implementing the recommendations.

“Consistent with the Government's broader agenda in deregulation, the Government also expects CASA to continue to look for ways to reduce regulatory costs on the industry without compromising safety,” he adds.

He also called on the industry to work together with the government and the aviation safety agencies to further strengthen its safety systems.

Truss also noted that, consistent with the report’s recommendations and earlier election commitments, he will soon announce the appointment of a new ATSB Commissioner “with a specific background in aviation.”

He will also recommend that the ATSB reopen its investigation into the 2009 ditching of a Pel-Air IAI Westwind business jet near Norfolk Island. A recent review of that investigation by the Canadian Transport Safety Bureau found that the ATSB made some errors, however the organisation as an overall continues to use best practices.

The one suggestion that was rejected, is for the ATSB's safety education function to be re-assigned to CASA. The government argues that the education role is part of the complementary system that operates between the two authorities.

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