Chapter 4: Transport—Continued

Program 2.4—Air Transport


The Department continued with implementation of more than 130 initiatives detailed in the Australian Government's Aviation White Paper, which was released in December 2009.

Key achievements in 2011–12 included:

  • finalisation of amendments to the regulations under the Airports Act 1996 (which itself was amended in 2011), and participation in planning coordination forums and community aviation consultation groups at federal airports
  • development of a National Airports Safeguarding Framework to improve community amenity and aviation safety, which was agreed by Australian Government, state and territory planning and infrastructure Ministers in May 2012, and
  • successful negotiation of enhanced international air service agreements with key markets such as Indonesia, India and Japan.


Program 2.4 was delivered through the work of the Aviation and Airports Division with input from the Policy and Research Division, ensuring that the aviation industry operated within a clear and robust safety regulatory environment and by facilitating access to competitive international and domestic air services for Australian businesses and consumers.

Did you know?

There were 27.6 million passengers carried on 150,440 international flights to and from Australia in 2010–11. This represents a 7.3 per cent increase in passengers and a 6.5 per cent increase in flights over 2009–10.

Source: Avline 2010–11.

Summary of performance

Tables 4.10 and 4.11 summarise the Department's results in delivering Program 2.4 against the key performance indicators and deliverables and their targets published in the 2011–12 PBS.

Table 4.10 Summary of performance—Program 2.4 key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Target Result
Policy advice is influential in the Government's response to current and emerging international and domestic aviation industry issues. Substantial progression on White Paper initiatives. 11–12 Substantially Achieved 10–11 Achieved 09–10 Achieved
The December 2009 Aviation White Paper outlined a number of short, medium and long term initiatives. Of the more than 130 initiatives detailed in the White Paper, well over half have been completed or are substantially underway, with other initiatives in progress.
Aviation regulation, policies and administered items effectively support future investment in safe, efficient and environmentally responsible aviation infrastructure. Ongoing investment in infrastructure by government agencies and industry. Airservices Australia has committed to invest over $900 million in new and enhanced air traffic and rescue and fire fighting infrastructure and services over the next five years. The aviation industry continues to invest in aircraft using advanced satellite-based technology.
Access to air services for remote communities is maintained or improved. Funded projects are completed and the Department manages all projects funded by the Australian Government in accordance with contractual requirements. The Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme provided 255 remote and isolated communities across ten geographical regions with access to a regular air service for the carriage of passengers and goods including medicines, fresh food and educational materials.

Air operator contracts were managed according to contractual requirements.
Results Key
Achieved All targets for 2011–12 were met or exceeded.
Substantially achieved Targets were mostly met, and any issues are being managed.
Partially achieved Some targets were met, and any issues are being managed.
Not achieved None or minimal progress was made against targets in 2011–12.

Table 4.11 Summary of performance—Program 2.4 deliverables

Deliverable Target Result
Aviation industry operates within a clear and robust regulatory framework. Aviation safety agency governance arrangements operate effectively. Substantial progression of White Paper initiatives. The Minister launched the Aviation White Paper in December 2009. Implementation of initiatives began immediately.

Additional funding over four years was allocated in the 2010–11 Budget to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), enabling legislation was progressed through Parliament and new regulations were established.

The CASA and the Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing continued to complete the drafting of a major package of operational and licensing regulations in 2011–12.
Businesses and consumers have access to competitive international and domestic air services. Agreements which provide increased flexibility and capacity are established, consistent with Government policy. Ten sets of air services talks with key countries. 19 sets of air services talks and correspondence with a further 15 countries resulted in expanded opportunities for airlines to develop new and existing markets.

Discussions continued with the European Commission on the proposed comprehensive air services agreement with the European Union.
Leased airports are regulated in accordance with the Airports Act 1996. Master Plans and Major Development Plans assessed in accordance with legislative requirements and advice provided to Minister. Master and Major Development Plans assessed in accordance with legislative requirements. The Department assessed a number of airport statutory planning documents and provided advice to the Minister in accordance with the requirements of the Airports Act 1996. The documents included master plans for Gold Coast and Townsville airports.
Aviation environmental impact on communities including aircraft noise is monitored, to ensure operator compliance with airport curfews; implementation of Government's noise amelioration programs (Adelaide and Fort Street); and appropriate noise disclosure in Airport Master Plans. Dispensation reports tabled; compliance with airport curfews; establishment of new regulations to restrict marginally compliant chapter 3 aircraft, continued improvements in aircraft noise information tools. Completion of Fort Street and Adelaide aircraft noise amelioration programs. Dispensation reports were tabled for all airports with curfews. Compliance with curfew requirements were monitored and enforced.

All eligible properties have been insulated under the Adelaide Airport Noise Insulation Program.

The Department continues to monitor the noise contours in Sydney and Adelaide on an annual basis to ascertain the impact of aircraft noise on residents living around the Sydney and Adelaide airports.
Efficient and effective management of administered items. Items are administered in accordance with relevant legislation, published guidelines and ANAO guidance. Administered items were administered in accordance with relevant legislation, published guidelines and ANAO guidance.
Air access to regional and remote communities is supported. (Payment scheme for Airservices Australia's en route charges and Regional Aviation Access administered items). Costs for airlines providing regular public and/or aeromedical services to regional areas reduced. Safety of airstrips improved. The Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme funding component under the Regional Aviation Access Program gave 255 remote and isolated communities across 10 geographical regions access to a regular air service for the carriage of passengers and goods including medicines, fresh food and educational materials.

Air operator contracts managed according to contractual requirements.

17 airlines sought assistance under the Payment scheme for Airservices Australia's en route charges during 2011–12. Payments were made in a timely manner.

Did you know?

The Australian domestic aviation industry recorded 607,062 flights in 2010–11. Of these, 227,289 flights (37.4 per cent) were operated by regional airlines.

Source: Avline 2010–11.

Table 4.12 provides a summary of the results achieved by each of the administered items under Program 2.4.

Table 4.12 Summary of performance—Program 2.4 administered items

Administered Item Result
Airport Lessee Companies—reimbursement of parking fines. The Department reimbursed participating airports an agreed proportion of parking infringement revenue collected and remitted to the Commonwealth.
Fort Street High School—noise insulation. The NSW Government managed this project on behalf of the Australian Government under a National Partnership Agreement. The project was carried out over a series of stages to minimise the impact on students and school operations. The project was completed in early 2012.
Implementation of noise amelioration for Adelaide Airport. Insulation work on two churches was completed in April 2012.
International Civil Aviation Organization—contribution. Australia participated in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council during 2011–12, with two employees based in the Montreal office representing Australia in ICAO Council matters and on the ICAO Air Navigation Commission.
Payment scheme for Airservices Australia's en route charges. 17 airlines sought assistance during 2011–12. The Department paid invoices in a timely manner, conducting payment runs weekly.
Regional Aviation Access. Upgrades to a total of 83 aerodromes in remote locations across Australia began under the program in 2011–12. These upgrades will improve safety and access for aircraft operators and their passengers, through a range of infrastructure measures such as:
  • runway sealing, resealing and pavement repairs
  • installation of runway lighting to enable night operations, including medical evacuations, and
  • installation of animal-proof perimeter fences.
The 83 airstrips include: 45 funded through co-funding arrangements under the Remote Airstrip Upgrade funding component; and 38 airstrips at remote Indigenous communities funded under the Remote Aviation Infrastructure Fund component of the Regional Aviation Access Program.
Sydney West Airport—rental properties. The Department effectively administered the leases to ensure that the Australian Government met its obligations as a landlord. This included authorising maintenance and paying water and land rates.

The budget and actual expenditure for each administered item is listed in Appendix A.

Detailed report on performance

The following report is against the headings from the applicable output from the 2011–12 PBS.

a) Implementation of a National Aviation Policy White Paper

The Aviation White Paper, Flight Path to the Future, was released on 16 December 2009.

Major initiatives completed or substantially progressed included:

  • continuing the liberalisation of Australia's international air services agreements with expanded capacity to India, Indonesia, Japan and New Caledonia
  • new cooperative relationships between Airservices Australia and the Department of Defence to bring about cooperation and harmonisation between civilian and defence aviation navigation systems
  • release of Air Traffic Management Policy Directions at the end of February 2012
  • customer charters completed by all major Australian airlines
  • agreement to National Airport Safeguarding Advisory Group Guidelines by the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure in May 2012
  • completion of the Joint Study on aviation capacity for the Sydney region in the first quarter of 2012, and
  • release of the Productivity Commission review into airport pricing and economic regulatory settings at Australia's major airports in March 2012.

All airlines introduced customer charters to provide greater transparency on terms and conditions of travel, and established a customer advocate to facilitate timely resolution of complaints about airlines.

Case Study—Regional Aviation Access Program

The Australian Government has committed funding to ensure that Australians in remote communities have reasonable access to air services to major regional centres.It is targeted to routes that are not commercially viable but are essential for the economic and social wellbeing of the communities they serve.

The Regional Aviation Access Program (RAAP) gives remote communities tailored access to a selection of aviation-related services, including subsidised weekly flights, funding for airstrip upgrades and technical advice.

RAAP is made up of five programs: Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme; Remote Aviation Infrastructure Fund; Remote Aerodrome Inspection Program; Remote Aerodrome Safety Program; and the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program. The programs were consolidated in July 2010 to allow funding to be allocated where it is most needed.

RAAP has a 2012–13 Budget allocation of $24.65 million, including a provision for aerodrome upgrades at remote and isolated airstrips. This funding will be used for works at indigenous community airstrips to improve safety and accessibility and to fund grants to a broad range of aerodrome owners for co-funded projects.

During 2011–12 the Australian Government, through the Department, funded:

Image of regional aviation
  • over 50 subsidised weekly flights to 255 remote communities including cattle stations and indigenous communities
  • 40 upgrades at remote airstrips, with a further 45 planned for 2012–13, and
  • over 80 remote aerodrome inspections to improve the safety and reliability of outback airstrips.

Safe, regular flights at safe, operational aerodromes are vital for remote communities especially when access by road is not possible for long periods because of bad weather or seasonal conditions.

Such flights include the Royal Flying Doctor Service, those provided under RAAP, and others, carrying passengers and essential supplies and transporting professionals who service remote communities.

b) Sydney Basin Aviation Joint Study

The Joint Study on aviation capacity for the Sydney region was presented to the Australian and New South Wales governments in March 2012.

A steering committee comprising senior Australian and New South Wales government officials and business representatives oversaw the study. The committee commissioned consultancies for expert analysis and independent advice on aviation and related transport matters. Key stakeholders consulted included airlines, airports, peak industry bodies and government agencies.

The report was well received by industry and other stakeholders. The Australian Government considered the report in May 2012 and agreed to implement the recommended overarching strategy:

  • to optimise the use of Sydney Airport
  • to better protect and use other airports in the region, and
  • to identify and select a site for a supplementary airport.

The Department will continue to work with the NSW Government, other Australian Government agencies and industry to implement the Australian Government's agenda to ensure capacity to meet current and future aviation demands of the Sydney region.

As a result of the Australian Government's decisions, work started on a detailed analysis of the Wilton area as a possible supplementary airport location.

c) Maintaining aviation safety

Participation in international forums

The Department, in conjunction with CASA and Airservices Australia, maintained an office at the ICAO headquarters in Montreal, Canada. The two departmental employees based in Montreal provided strong representation of Australian interests through their roles on the ICAO Council and Air Navigation Commission. The Department administered Australia's annual ICAO contribution.

The Department worked with other portfolio agencies to support Australia's transition to a continuous monitoring approach from the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program, as supported by ICAO, which is due for completion by the end of 2012. Australia's representative on the Air Navigation Commission has been extensively involved in the development of globally harmonised air traffic management systems to be considered at ICAO's 12th Air Navigation Conference in November 2012. They will provide a global platform for inter-operability of air traffic management and improved navigation. The Department will also lead Australia's position on aviation security at the High Level Security Conference in September 2012.

Cooperation in the Asia–Pacific region

The Department took part in projects to assist Australia's neighbours to improve the safety, security and effectiveness of air transport regulation. This included sending policy, safety and security advisers to Papua New Guinea (PNG) through the Strongim Gavman Program (SGP).

In addition to SGP activities, Australian and PNG transport agencies worked together under a memorandum of understanding to improve transport safety and security in PNG. This covered accident investigation, aviation safety regulation, air traffic management, transport policy and maritime safety.

The Department, with Airservices Australia, is helping to build capacity in aviation rescue fire fighting in PNG. A project funded by AusAID and managed by the Department initially enabled delivery of 11 fire fighting vehicles to PNG early in 2011 and continues to fund Airservices Australia staff delivering supplementary training for staff of the PNG National Airports Corporation.

The Department continued to coordinate the Australian Government's Indonesia Transport Safety Assistance Package under a memorandum of understanding between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia on cooperation in the transport sector. A subordinate transport safety annex set the framework for assistance to June 2014. ITSAP provides technical and training support to Indonesia in aviation, maritime and road transport safety. The support is through the Department, Airservices Australia, AMSA, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and CASA. Significant outcomes during 2011–12 included:

  • ITSAP trained Indonesian officers developing and delivering aircraft accident investigation workshops for aviation safety personnel
  • completion of a civil joint search and rescue exercise in May 2012 using surface and airborne assets
  • development and distribution of a tropical mountainous terrain flying operations training kit, and
  • development and implementation of non-conventional vessel standards.
Aviation safety regulation

The Department worked closely with CASA and Airservices Australia on aviation safety issues. It gave strategic policy and governance advice to the Minister on operations of CASA and Airservices Australia consistent with the governing legislation for each agency, the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and the Air Services Act 1995 respectively, and the Ministerial Statements of Expectation for both agencies. This included key aviation safety reappointments to the Civil Aviation Safety Board and the appointment of a new Chair and four new members to the Airservices Australia Board. The Department worked closely with the ATSB on aviation safety issues consistent with the Minister's Statement of Expectations for ATSB.

The Department assisted CASA and the Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing (OLDP) Taskforce which was finalising the regulatory reform program covering maintenance, operations and flight crew licensing guides of CASA's regulations. Several draft operational and licensing regulations were released for public comment in 2011–12 with a view to finalising these regulatory guides by 30 June 2013.

The Department, through the Aviation Access Working Group, developed guidance material for mobility aids on aircraft which was published on the Department's website in May 2012.

This information, for passengers and airline and airport operators, covers safety requirements and other matters such as aircraft size limitations. Airline and airport operators are expected to consider this material in detailing their policies on mobility aids within their disability access facilitation plans. All major domestic Australian airlines and airports now have these plans, which provide passengers with information on available disability services and requirements.

The Department contributed submissions and advice to three Parliamentary inquiries by the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications. The inquiries examined issues relating to airline safety, including fatigue management in aviation personnel, cabin crew ratios and pilot training.

Air traffic management

The Department provides policy and governance advice to the Australian Government on air traffic management and airspace policy issues including undertaking a number of initiatives identified in the Aviation White Paper.

The Department, in consultation with CASA, Airservices Australia and the Department of Defence, and after public consultation, developed a new Australian Airspace Policy Statement (AAPS) which was approved by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and came into effect on 1 July 2012.

The AAPS is made by the Minister under Section 8 of the Airspace Act 2007 and guides CASA in administering Australian airspace.

The new AAPS includes airspace criteria thresholds to help determine when changes to the classification of airspace above and around an aerodrome may be required. The three criteria are based on annual numbers of passenger transport aircraft movements, and total aircraft and passenger movements.

The Department completed work on an air traffic management policy directions paper. This was published in February 2012 and outlines five key directions for Australian Air Traffic Management (ATM). These directions are robust and integrated planning, adoption of advanced technology, international harmonisation, enhanced regional aviation safety, and managing environmental impacts of aircraft. The paper provides for better, coordinated ATM planning and investment by government agencies and industry.

The four major government agencies involved in aviation policy, regulation and service provision—the Department, Airservices Australia, CASA and the Department of Defence—continued to work on aviation policy issues which had cross-agency implications in 2011–12 through the operations of the Aviation Policy Group (APG) and the Aviation Implementation Group (AIG).

The Secretary of the Department is Chair of the APG, with the group's other members being the Chief Executive Officer of Airservices Australia, the Director of Aviation Safety in CASA and the Chief of the Air Force. While the group offers a forum to maintain strong working relationships between the agencies and coordinate joint action where appropriate, each agency retains individual authority and accountability for its own functions.

In 2011–12, APG discussed a range of issues including civil-military air traffic management harmonisation, national aerodrome safeguarding, future avionics requirements for aircraft, airspace and air traffic growth in Western Australian aviation and ICAO issues, including preparations for the ICAO Air Navigation Conference in November 2012.

AIG, also chaired by the Department and including senior officials from each of the three key government aviation agencies, met quarterly to develop advice on issues identified by the APG. The Chair of the Australian Strategic Air Traffic Management Group (ASTRA), the industry advisory group on air traffic management issues, also addressed AIG at the September 2011 meeting to consolidate working relationships between the two groups. The Department attends ASTRA meetings.

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Last Updated: 17 November, 2014