Those Part 61 questions: CAA Director Graeme Harris replies

05 February 2013 / by the GAA team / Consultation, Governance

On January 27, shortly before the deadline for submissions on the proposals in NPRM 09-02 Part 61 Stage 2 expired, we asked Civil Aviation CEO Graeme Harris several questions. On February 5, he answered them.

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?

There was actually a nine-week consultation period for this NPRM to take account of the Christmas/New Year holiday period. A ‘normal’ consultation period would be 4-6 weeks which would be adequate at other times of the year. I don’t accept the ‘given’ statement regarding the time taken to answer general inquiries. While I acknowledge that there will always be exceptions due to errors or omissions, the CAA Service Charter (available on our website) states that we will acknowledge all written inquiries within 10 working days and that progress reports will be provided where matters proceed over a period of time, that is, if a full response can not be completed within 10 working days. The only exception to this commitment should be in the handling of an Official Information Act request where the timelines in that legislation will be met. If someone who has written to the CAA with an inquiry has not had their request acknowledged within 10 working days, then I would be happy to hear from them and ensure that their inquiry is followed up.

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?

Yes – see the answer to the first question. At least three weeks was added on to the normal consultation period to take account of the Christmas/New Year period.

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

There was broad sector representation in the Technical Study Group (TSG) for this rule project. I acknowledge that the input from that group is dated but nevertheless would expect to see a high level of consistency between the outcome of their work and the current NPRM. If that is not the case, then I’m sure that will be reflected in the submissions and will be taken into consideration when considering what action to take as a result of the submissions. The general principle of seeking advice from the aviation sector during the development of rules remains valid.

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?

Before responding to this question, I checked the CAA database which records approximately 4000 D Cat instructor ratings held by pilots with active medical certificates – however by no means would I assume that all are currently exercising the privileges of the rating. Irrespective of the number, the purpose of the NPRM is to advise those people of the proposed changes to the rule and seek their comment on those changes. The CAA has advertised the NPRM via major newspapers and through its website. The CAA website offers a notification service where people can subscribe to be advised automatically of any Rules changes, Notices of Proposed Rule Making (NPRMs) and Advisory Circulars (ACs) which I recommend people subscribe to. I consider the extent of the consultation to be appropriate. I acknowledge that we could always do more in the way of advising proposed changes but it becomes a cost / benefit trade-off.

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?

No – but I’ll ensure that the submissions on the NPRM are considered with an open mind and appropriate recommendations made to the Ministry of Transport on next steps for the rules project. At the time of writing, the submissions have not been reviewed so I can make no commitment regarding the outcome of that process.

As a final comment, I’d like to record the fact that the Part 61 NPRM is a ‘legacy’ rules project in that it was included on the rules contract prior to the introduction of the improvements to the rules development processes that resulted from the Ministry of Transport’s recent Rules Redesign work. Once those processes are applied to the determination of what rules are contracted for development, I would not expect to see any repeat of the Part 61 saga. The time taken to develop the amendments proposed in the NPRM is entirely unsatisfactory.

Editor’s note: There seems to be a fairly widespread idea that CAA is not efficient when it comes to answering enquiries. For the record, that hasn’t been the GAA experience with the Director.

Quick link to the CAA Service Charter

♦ When the deadline closed, GAA also asked the AIA and AOPA for their positions on Part 61. The AIA’s Chief Executive, Irene King, said that the association did not intend to publish its submission, but from the supporting submissions there was overwhelming agreement that deferral of the rule, with reconsideration after a number of reviews are complete, would be preferable.