Back to All News

CASA: Flight Deck Duty Times

Estimates & Committees
Scott Ludlam 30 Oct 2010

Question No.: CASA 12
Division/Agency: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Topic: Flight Deck duty times
Hansard Page/s: 93 (27/05/10)

Senator Ludlam asked:

Senator LUDLAM-I am not sure if what I am talking about is prescriptive, but it seems to be a different reading of the rule book. One says that your clock starts when you arrive and the other says that the clock starts when the plane starts moving. This can lead to discrepancies of some period of hours.

Mr McCormick-That is correct. Internationally there are various systems that use different start times. That is not unknown or unique to Australia.

Senator LUDLAM-All right, but for a period of four years the association has been complaining that this is putting people at risk.

Mr McCormick-I am unaware of what happened before I arrived on 1 March last year.

Senator IAN MACDONALD-Mr McCormick, do any of your colleagues who have been here a lot longer than you know?

Mr McCormick-We can take that on notice.


Operators currently have three means of managing flight crew fatigue through:
i) application of the provisions of Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 48;
ii) exemptions from any of the requirements set out in CAO 48, subject to such conditions as CASA considers necessary in the interests of safety (CASA has eight Standard Industry Exemptions that operators are able to use to make formal application to CASA for exemption); and
iii) Fatigue Risk Management Systems which require an operator to manage the risk associated with fatigue and where CASA evaluates the system and formally approves the program.

Flight deck duty is defined in the standard industry exemptions from CAO 48 as the total time a flight crewmember is on duty on the flight deck in a flight duty period. The Flight Duty Period is defined as: a period which starts when a flight crew member is required by an operator to report for a duty period in which flight as an operating crew member is undertaken, and finishes not less than 15 minutes after the end of the block time of the final flight as an operating crew member. Flight Time is defined as: not less than the total time between when an aircraft first moves from its parking place, until the latter of the aircraft coming to rest at the designated parking position or until all engines are stopped.

CASA is working with industry to clarify and refine the definitions used in the standard industry exemptions, for example by Qantas and Jetstar.

Flight duty times are included in CASA surveillance and audit operations.

Question No.: CASA 13

Division/Agency: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Topic: Application of exemptions to Civil Aviation Order 48
Hansard Page/s: 95 (27/05/10)

Senator Ludlam asked:

Senator LUDLAM-The civil aviation order-the 48 general exemption et cetera, the one that I quoted to you right at the beginning-what status does that have? Is that a guideline or is it a law?

Mr McCormick-It is not primary legislation as such; it is an instrument. It is an order written by us, but it is not law.

Senator LUDLAM-It is delegated legislation, but what happens if you are in breach of something like that? You are breaking the law?

Mr McCormick-I will defer. I could give you an answer, but it is perhaps best if it comes from a lawyer, so I will pass it to Dr Aleck.

Dr Aleck-The civil aviation order is made under the Civil Aviation Regulations and a noncompliance with a requirement in the order could constitute a breach of the regulation. I should point out that the order itself contains an exemption provision. So, under the order, exemptions from the provisions of part 48 can be approved by CASA, in which case a departure from the order would not be a breach.

Senator LUDLAM-Okay, if you have asked. My understanding is that that order mandates that the clock starts when you arrive on deck, not when the wheels of the aircraft start moving. So are Qantas and Jetstar in breach of their obligations under that regulation or not?

Mr McCormick-I did not bring all the civil aviation orders with me, I am sorry, Senator. We will have to take that on notice.


See CASA 12 (above)

Question No.: CASA 14

Division/Agency: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Topic: Breaches and changes to definition of Civil Aviation Order 48
Hansard Page/s: 96 (27/05/10)

Senator Ludlam asked:

Senator LUDLAM-I find it a little bit puzzling that, in terms of something as clear-cut as this-and Commissioner Hart may or may not have been a legal expert, but he quite succinctly paraphrased what Dr Aleck just told us; I do not think those two views are inconsistent at all-it seems very much as though, at least at the time when he wrote that, there were no exemptions in place. Would that give you a concern if, for a period of four years, our carriers have been transporting people about the place in breach of regulations-quite important ones, I would have thought-governing fatigue on duty?

Mr McCormick-I do not know that, Senator. As I have said, I do not have that information in front of me and the small part of the transcript you read to me does not give me any insight into what the rest of that report had about where he reached that conclusion. I will say now that I did not put a lot of strength into or reliance on Mr Hart's conclusions.

Senator LUDLAM-That is interesting. Do you think he might have been wrong in the sense of this?

Mr McCormick-I am unable to answer that, Senator. As I said, I will take it on notice. I think the issue here also is that the change of a definition does not necessarily turn something from safe to unsafe.


See CASA 12.

Back to All News