Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Australian Government

Australia's State Aviation Safety Programme

1. Australia's safety policy, objectives and resources

1.1—Australian aviation legislative framework

Australia's legislative system

The Australian Parliament has the power to make laws for aviation safety.

All of Australia's aviation regulations and legislative instruments are available to the public free of charge on a dedicated Australian Government website:

Australian aviation legislation

Australia has governance arrangements for aviation safety which separate the policy role of the portfolio Department, the independent roles of the aviation safety regulator and separate independent accident investigator, and the role of the air navigation service providers.

Australia ratified the Chicago Convention in 1947. The primary legislation in Australia that gives effect to the Convention is the Air Navigation Act 1920.This Act provides approval for the ratification of the Convention, with the text of the Convention, protocols and amendments to it included as schedules.

The Department is responsible for administering the Air Navigation Act 1920.

The Air Navigation Act 1920 also contains a provision for regulations to be made for the purpose of carrying out, and giving effect to, the Chicago Convention and international SARPs contained in any Annex to the Convention.

The Civil Aviation Act 1988 (CA Act) establishes CASA as the aviation safety regulator and sets out CASA's governance arrangements.

The CA Act provides that CASA is to perform its functions in a manner consistent with the obligations of Australia under the Chicago Convention and agreements between Australia and any other country relating to the safety of air navigation.

The Airspace Act 2007confers additional regulatory responsibility on CASA in relation to the administration and regulation of airspace with safety as the most important consideration, taking into account protection of the environment, efficient use of airspace, equitable access to that airspace for all users and security.

The Airspace Act 2007 also requires the Government to make an Australian Airspace Policy Statement (the Statement).

The latest Statement was made by the Australian Government in July 2015.

The Statement provides guidance to CASA, as the airspace regulator, on the administration of Australian airspace, together with the legislative and regulatory requirements of the Airspace Act 2007 and the Airspace Regulations 2007.

The Statement identified a number of the Government's airspace policy objectives including consistency with the objectives and priorities identified in the ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan and ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan and reaffirmed that the safety of passenger transport services is Australia's first priority in airspace administration.

The Australian Airspace Policy Statement is reviewed every three years and can be found on the Department's website.

The Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act) establishes ATSB as the ‘no-blame’ investigator of aviation accidents and incidents and aims to maintain and improve transport safety by providing for: the reporting of transport safety matters; independent investigations into transport accidents and other incidents; the making of safety action statements and recommendations and the protection of certain kinds of safety information.

Provisions in the TSI Act reflect the international principles for aircraft accident and incident investigation prescribed in Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention.

The Air Services Act 1995 establishes Airservices as the civil air navigation services provider as well as aviation rescue fire fighting services provider. The Act prescribes the functions, responsibilities and governance arrangements for the organisation.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority Act 1990 establishes the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) as the national safety agency responsible for maritime safety, protection of the marine environment and aviation and marine search and rescue.

The Meteorology Act 1955 establishes the statutory position of Director of Meteorology and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) as Australia's national weather, climate and water agency.

The Director of Meteorology is the designated Meteorological Authority for Australia, in accordance with the requirements of the Chicago Convention and BOM is the aeronautical meteorological service provider.

Aviation safety regulation

The civil aviation safety legislative system is also comprised of a range of subordinate legislation, such as regulations, orders and manual of standards, which are supported by guidance and advisory material. To ensure the effectiveness of the oversight system, change proposals are developed in consultation with industry and other stakeholders and involve safety and cost benefit analysis.

CASA takes the lead role in regulatory development. CASA has adopted a three-tier structure comprising the Act, Regulations and Manuals of Standards or Civil Aviation Orders. 

Australia will generally adopt ICAO SARPs and seeks to use best practice regulatory approaches adopted by other leading aviation safety authorities. Where Australia elects not to adopt an ICAO SARP (in whole or in part) it will lodge a formal difference with ICAO explaining the basis of the difference (e.g. the lack of relevance of an international aviation requirement to smaller, internal domestic aviation operations in regional areas of Australia) in accordance with the requirements of the Chicago Convention.

Australia will continue to review the regulatory framework to ensure consistency with ICAO and international approaches. CASA will also ensure it works closely with the international aviation community to help develop future global and regional regulatory priorities.

More information on Australia's aviation regulations is available at Appendix B

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