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Australia Adopts Kinder, Gentler Approach To Regulatory Enforcement

Australian Civil Aviation Safety Agency changes policy on use of safety data in enforcement actions.

Authority (CASA) director of aviation safety is instructing agency staff to adopt a “just culture” approach and to limit using safety information as the impetus for enforcement actions.

According to the authority’s new regulatory philosophy, data and information maintained in a safety data collection system (e.g., safety management system) or acquired in the normal course of surveillance will not be used to support disciplinary action. Instead, “individuals and organizations found to have violated a provision of the safety rules will be given an opportunity to address and correct safety issues without CASA initiating enforcement action,” states the newly published directive.

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It makes exceptions for certain instances of criminal conduct and noncompliance that are recurrent, deliberate, negligent or pose a serious and imminent risk to safety. It also sets forth a process for certificate holders to challenge adverse actions if they support it with safety information in a manner consistent with the instruction.

The publication illustrates increased focus on nonpunitive information-sharing and a risk-based safety approach. In 2015, the FAA adopted a new regulatory philosophy limiting enforcement action to circumstances of “deliberate, willful or reckless breach of the aviation safety rules . . . a pattern of repeated misconduct or . . . failure to take appropriate corrective action. . . .” According to one recent official agency public address, the number of FAA enforcement actions has decreased 70% since this compliance policy has been adopted. 

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