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Federal Government Aviation Safety Regulation Review announced

(Please note, this matter is not currently being litigated in Australia)

The Shine Lawyers Aviation Department applauds the announcement today by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Warren Truss, to establish an independent review of aviation safety regulation in Australia.  The review will commence shortly and report in May 2014.

Pat Nunan co-chair of the Australian Lawyers Alliance Aviation Special Interest Group (Qld) indicated today that the Group will prepare a submission to the panel to make practical recommendations to improve air safety regulation in Australia based on learnings in Australia and overseas.

The Review provides a necessary forum to voice the particular concerns of those who legally represent people who are injured or killed in aviation accidents, where such incidents could have been prevented by a better or more proactive regulatory approach.

The objectives of the panel are set out in the terms of reference as follows – to investigate:

  • the structures, effectiveness and processes of all agencies involved in aviation safety;
  • the relationship and interaction of those agencies with each other, as well as with the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development;
  • the outcomes and direction of the regulatory reform process being undertaken by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA);
  • the suitability of Australia's aviation safety related regulations when benchmarked against comparable overseas jurisdictions; and
  • any other safety related matters.
The review will be undertaken by a panel of independent aviation safety experts: Mr David Forsyth AM (Panel Chair); Mr Don Spruston; and Mr Roger Whitefield.


To understand why the review is taking place, consider the Senate Report into Aviation Accident Investigations released by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee in May. In the final report of the Committee, conclusions were drawn that a particular Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) accident investigation was deficient in several respects.  The Senate responded to industry criticism of the ATSB's accident investigation report into the ditching of a Pel-Air air ambulance at Norfolk Island in 2009. The Committee indicated some deficiencies in that report could constitute breaches of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (Cth) and Australia's international aviation obligations.

Twenty six recommendations were made to address problems the committee identified with investigative and regulatory processes, funding and reporting.

Participating in the review

Information on how to make submissions to the review has not been published yet.  However, the approach of the Minister in supporting appropriate and broad industry consultation, especially from the general aviation, sport and recreational aircraft sectors of the aviation industry is welcomed.  These sectors presently suffer most in relation to the sheer volume and complexity of Australian aviation regulation as evidenced by the sheer numbers of accidents and incidents (further information is set out in an article on aviation occurrence statistics published on the Shine website.

It would be beneficial if unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operators and manufacturers, who represent the cutting edge of future commercial aviation growth, also made submissions to the review to reflect the diversity of aviation stakeholders in Australia.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 10, 2013.

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