Australia's State Aviation Safety Programme
5. Challenges, priorities and objectives
5.1 Challenges ahead
The Australian international, domestic and major regional airline passenger market has experienced strong growth over the last decade.
The BITRE forecasts that, over the next fifteen years, growth will continue in the Australian aviation market albeit at a slightly more conservative rate than the last few years and with variations between different industry sectors.
Competitive pressures in Australia's aviation market and a steadying of growth in regional Australia also place pressures on aircraft operators and Government agencies alike to maximise the efficiency of their operations and reduce costs without impacting on safety outcomes.
The Australian aviation safety system will continue to be a complex one with the expanding use of different types of aircraft ranging from jet airline services provided by international, domestic and regional airline carriers through to off-shore helicopters, sport and recreational aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS)
The use of recreational and commercial RPAS has rapidly expanded in Australia and is expected to continue to do so. As well as raising privacy questions, aviation safety and air traffic management issues will need to be addressed if RPAS operations are to be increasingly and safely integrated into Australian airspace.
Industry complexity creates ongoing challenges for Government aviation regulatory, investigative and service agencies alike and will need to be carefully considered in future agency and industry resource and workforce planning.
Continued forecast growth, particularly at Australia's major airports, increases demand on a range of airport, air traffic and aviation rescue and fire fighting infrastructure and services.
While investment in new and enhanced infrastructure and equipment by aircraft and airport operators, air traffic and aviation rescue and fire fighting service providers is often associated with increased capacity and efficiency, first and foremost it must provide safety benefits.
In terms of infrastructure capacity on the ground, by the mid-2020s there are plans for new runways at Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth airports and a new airport at Badgerys Creek in Sydney's west.
In the sky, Airservices and Defence, through the OneSKY program, are planning to significantly increase national air traffic management capacity. More information on this program is available from the Airservices’ website.
Technology will also continue to play a vital role in meeting Australia's future safety, efficiency and capacity requirements. Modern aircraft and air traffic management equipment gives access to more precise communications, navigation and surveillance.
Australia is adopting satellite-based technologies to enhance the accuracy and reliability of surveillance across the country using Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), while navigation is increasingly based on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS).
These technologies are complemented by robust ground-based surveillance and navigation systems, including a modern enroute and terminal area radar surveillance network.
With the increased use of technology comes the need to enable a safe and effective transition by Government agencies and industry, and the wider aviation community, to new procedures and processes, phased-in over several years to facilitate the most effective change.
Clear and appropriate regulatory standards and requirements will also be established to support the use of new technology and infrastructure.
Australia will continue its engagement with ICAO and other international bodies in the development of standards and recommended practices that safely facilitate the global, regional and State adoption of new and enhanced technology and infrastructure.
Increased adoption of new aircraft, satellite-based navigation systems and other new technologies require a sufficient pool of properly skilled, qualified and experienced personnel to safely and effectively operate these systems and equipment.
Training and education of a skilled workforce will be key factors in ensuring that Australia's aviation safety performance is maintained and enhanced.
The delivery of safety outcomes through the use of more systems-based approaches by industry will require workforce planning strategies that enable the development, recruitment and retention of a skilled and capable workforce.
Increased use of performance‑based rules and greater use of risk-based surveillance concepts in safety oversight approaches will require a shift in how CASA conducts its regulatory oversight functions and this too will require different skills sets for regulatory staff.
General Aviation (GA) fleet
A challenging part of Australia's aviation industry is the age of Australia's GA fleet. The current rate of renewal of the GA aircraft fleet is relatively low and older aircraft will continue to form a large part of Australia's GA aircraft fleet posing challenges to airworthiness assurance and ongoing equipage to support new air traffic services.
Several aircraft manufacturers and aircraft operators have established specific maintenance regimes to enable the continued safe operation of these aircraft. In doing so it is recognised that such regimes come at a cost and require the availability of maintenance personnel.
Aviation safety agencies will maintain an active educational and awareness programme to continue to highlight these risks and provide guidance to facilitate industry compliance with maintenance requirements to help ensure these risks continue to be responsibly addressed.