How the CAA took 13 years to make a mockery of Consultation

27 January 2013 / by Des Lines / Consultation, Governance

Some of us wondered about the history of the Part 61 Notice of Proposed Rule Making, why it has taken 13 years to reach the NPRM stage, and who has been involved in the process during that time.

Perhaps the symbolism of the number 13 foretold that this NPRM was likely to have many controversial aspects. The hangman’s noose, for example, consists of 13 turns of rope.

From information supplied to GAA by Michael Shouse, a CAA Aviation Standards Specialist, it would appear that the saga started way back in February 2000 with the formation of a TSG, which in turn was formed by CIRAG.

For those of us who have difficulty understanding acronyms, this translates to: the Civil Aviation Authority Industry Rules Advisory Group formed a Technical Study Group.

Now, who were the people appointed to the TSG?

♦ Michael Young (chairperson), representing airline operators

♦ Richard Rayward, representing general aviation aeroplane operators

♦ Barry Gordon, representing general aviation helicopter operators

♦ John Clements, representing helicopter training organisations

♦ Warren Sattler, representing aeroplane training organisations

♦ Jay Peters, representing aero clubs

♦ Neil Hyland, representing Aviation Services Limited

♦ Michael Tucker, representing Personnel Licensing Unit, CAA and

♦ Roger Crosthwaite, CAA Coordinator

The terms of reference for the TSG were:

♦ New Zealand’s obligations as a signatory to the ICAO convention

♦ The outcomes of the ICAO Safety Oversight Audit (1999)

♦ New Zealand’s obligations under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997

♦ Any appropriate international standards

♦ The recommendations contained in CAA policy on aviation examinations

♦ The implications and constraints of any implementation requirements

♦ The safety benefits and compliance costs

♦ The differentiation between administrative rules that are used for entry control, and rules that need to be enforced, along with the type of regulatory tool to be applied

Mark Mullins was subsequently brought onto the TSG to represent Air New Zealand interests and Barry Gordon departed after attending two meetings. Andrew MacKay became Barry Gordon’s replacement to advise on helicopter issues. James McPhee, representing the New Zealand Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), joined the TSG in July 2002 to assist with the requirements for recreational pilots.

So, in the beginning, we had some very good GA representation by experienced people, and the TSG review resulted in a draft NPRM in 2002 proposing a complete rewrite of Part 61, along with a significant number of consequential amendments to other rule parts.

So far, so good. We have a consultation process with a representative GA input.

Then, for reasons unknown, and upon which we can only speculate – because Michael Shouse, our CAA “Aviation Specialist” did not disclose them – the draft NPRM produced by the TSG was shelved.

By 2004, the TSG was inactive and remained so.

Perhaps some of the recommendations of the TSG were not acceptable to the way the CAA administrators (these proclaimed aviation specialists) had desired to draft Rule Part 61 in its final form.

This conjecture is borne out in part by the subsequent opposition, by some of the original members of the original TSG, to changes that appeared in the recently published NPRM.

In the intervening years between 2004 and 2012, it appears the draft NPRM lay dead in the water, with no further input from the TSG.

Several external influences on Rule Part 61 appeared on the scene, and it would appear they were not given the opportunity of being assessed from a GA input perspective by the now-defunct TSG. These were:

♦ The 2000-2005 Safety Forums

♦ The work being undertaken by CASA to rewrite the Australian pilot licensing regulations

♦ The ICAO programme to review Annex 1

♦ The ICAO programme to establish English language proficiency standards published in November 2003 and fully implemented by March 2008

The subsequent implementation of the English Language Proficiency test has already created much controversy among those of us who have English as our first language. It has also added yet another fee to be paid by our student pilots to ASL for their English language speaking assessment. An applicant can have a PhD in English, or be an English elocution teacher, but in the same manner as you can’t avoid death or taxes, the new pilot cannot escape having to pay a fee to ASL to prove that he or she can speak and understand our native tongue.

Had this ICAO requirement been given the opportunity to be assessed by the original TSG, there may have been an alternative means of compliance formulated by the group, which would have satisfied the ICAO standards but would also have saved some of our young student pilots having to part with some of their hard-earned money in yet another fee.

Now, we fast forward to 2012 and the promulgation of NPRM 09-02 Part 61 Stage 2.

Immediately, there were objections raised by many in our GA industry (including some on the original TSG) to many of the proposed changes.

When GAA asked for the identities of the people who had formulated these changes, and their GA experience, we were expecting to be given a list of industry representatives that would have comprised a new and recently formed TSG.

We were somewhat bemused by the subsequent reply from Michael Shouse, that

“Refinement of the proposed rule has more recently been managed by Aviation Standards Specialists within the CAA with technical guidance from the very knowledgeable and experienced staff members of the Personnel and Flight Training Unit within the Aviation Infrastructure and Personnel Group.”

When this vacuous statement was questioned in a subsequent letter from GAA, it elicited the information that the following CAA administrators were entirely responsible for this redraft – and, it would appear, without the input of GA or industry representatives:

♦ Mark Boyle – Team Leader Licensing and Flight Training

♦ Michael Tucker – Principal Aviation Examiner

♦ Carlton Campbell – Training Standards Developments Officer

♦ John Parker – Aviation Examiner – GA Flight Operations

It is crystal-clear that once again, the “consultation process” by the CAA has been carried out with scant regard to industry input.

It would also appear that the notification about the NPRM and short submission time (although subsequently slightly extended following protest) was timed to coincide with the holiday period and would therefore escape detailed scrutiny.

It makes a complete nonsense of a consultation process if there is already a predetermined agenda in place by the CAA “experts”. In this case, it appears that the initial draft NPRM back in 2004 produced by the TSG didn’t fit the CAA agenda, which then shelved it for eight years and subsequently produced another draft NPRM of its own making.

The question is: whether this is a fair and democratic regulatory process that we in GA would be happy to see continue?

As CAA Aviation Standards Specialist Michael Shouse has said in his letter, the original TSG members back in 2002 acknowledged that Part 61 is a cornerstone part of the Civil Aviation Rules because

♦ It applies to the largest group of individuals within the civil aviation system

♦ It affects most flight operational sectors

♦ It is an integral part of the safety system

Without doubt, this statement is 100 per cent correct. Yet how did the proposed changes to the D Cat system, which would have a profound effect on the “passing down of knowledge” from some of our most experienced GA aviators to a younger generation, come to get drafted into the NPRM?

How did this seek to achieve an enhancement of the much-touted word “safety”?

It is clear that we must remain vigilant to the actions of CAA administrators who, in their exclusive opinion, know what is “best for us” and then proceed along a path of disregarding GA and industry input.

CAA CEO Graeme Harris recently wrote to GAA and promised that either he or his colleagues will answer our questions. So here are a few for you, Graeme:

♦ Do you consider a six-week consultation period adequate, given that CAA normally takes around 10 weeks to answer general enquiries, and currently does not even send an acknowledgement of receipt?

♦ Was it reasonable, after a 13-year gestation period, to initially time the Part 61 consultation in a period that included more than two weeks of Christmas and New Year holidays?

♦ The redrafters are all CAA employees. What happened to the idea of involving outside experts from the GA sector?

♦ There are reputed to be only about 100 New Zealand D Cat instructors. The CAA knows the exact number. Was it beyond the CAA’s capabilities to try to advise each of them of what Messrs Boyle, Tucker, Campbell and Parker had in mind?

♦ Will you now knock this proposed rule on the head, put everyone out of their misery, and begin a more inclusive and measured process of change?

If it takes Graeme 10 weeks to reply, Part 61 will probably already have been written in concrete – and we’ll all have been hung, drawn and quartered, yet again.